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The History of the Future of Education Technology

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  • 06/03/16--01:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    New Education Law: Bipartisan No More.” Republicans are made because the Department of Education issued guidelines about how ESSA should be implemented.

    Via The Atlantic: “Why the Education Department’s New Equity Rule Might Not Be So Equal.”

    Via the Huffington Post: “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) told reporters on Tuesday that he is sending letters to every superintendent in the state advising them not to follow the Obama administration's recently issued guidance on transgender students.”

    Via Education Week: “Cursive writing could be returning to Louisiana’s public school classrooms. With a 37–0 vote Tuesday, the Senate gave final legislative passage to a bill requiring public schools, including charter schools, to introduce cursive writing instruction by third grade. Instruction would have to continue through 12th grade.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Does Black Lives Matter belong in education reform? A private debate bursts into public view.”

    More on the politics of accreditation in the “accreditation” section below.

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Via the AP: “Donald Trump said that the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by former Trump University students has an ‘absolute conflict’ in handling the case because he is ‘of Mexican heritage.’” More via The Wall Street Journal.

    Lots of reporting on various court filings in the Trump University case, particularly those about the company’s “playbooks” detailing how former employees sold its course packages, targeting vulnerable populations. Via The New York Times: “Former Trump University Workers Call the School a ‘Lie’ and a ‘Scheme’ in Testimony.” Via The Atlantic: “The Art of the Swindle.” Via New York Magazine: “Trump University Told Recruiters to Target Single Parents With Hungry Kids.”

    Trumpvows to re-open Trump University. We can only hope it’s as a coding bootcamp.

    Education in the Courts

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Arizona Board of Regents probably violated First Amendment rights of state’s student association when it stopped collecting fees for the group, U.S. appeals court rules.”

    Via NPR: “The Kansas Supreme Court has rejected lawmakers’ attempt to fix the state’s education-funding problem. The court has said that schools will have to close if the Legislature does not correct inequity in the system by the end of June.” Read that last sentence very carefully: schools in Kansas will have to close. Via The New York Times: “Kansas Parents Worry Schools Are Slipping Amid Budget Battles.”

    In other Kansas news, this one via the AP: “Republican-led Kansas will challenge in court the Obama administration’s directive that public schools allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday, although he has not yet decided whether to join a lawsuit by 11 other states or sue separately.” Nice priorities you have here, Kansas.

    Via Politico: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to rehear for-profit colleges’ legal challenge to the Obama administration’s ‘gainful employment’ regulation.”

    More on the Trump University lawsuit in the poop emoji section above.

    Testing, Testing…

    “Most of the questions from New York’s 2016 state tests are now public,” Chalkbeat reports.

    Via Education Week: “New Test Pitched As Alternative to Common Core-Focused High School Exams.” “Word about the Vector Assessment of Readiness for College, or Vector A.R.C., has been making its way through the conservative blogosphere,” writes Catherine Gewertz, “which is pitching it as a tool for families who don’t want their children taking college admissions tests that reflect the Common Core State Standards.”

    Via Education Dive: “Fifth graders from Tennessee’s Nolan Elementary have created a campaign to convince the Tennessee Department of Education and Gov. Bill Haslam that the time they spend preparing for and taking standardized tests would be better spent doing hands-on learning activities.”

    More in the sports section below on falsifying college athletes’ test scores.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    “The Future of MOOCs Might Not Be Free,” suggests Education Week’s Market Brief with an observation that many of us made back in 2012.

    The Great Courses” are available on a medium other than VCR or cassette and The New York Times is on it.

    The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”

    The Average Student at a For-Profit College Was Worse Off After Attending.” More on this study in the research section below.

    The Department of Education announced a new monitor to oversee the Zenith Education Group, which bought Corinthian Colleges’ campuses. The department had fired the previous law firm in charge of this after finding that there were conflicts of interest in Zenith’s relationship with it.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Iowa’s Department of Education notified Bridgepoint Education– the parent company of Ashford University– that the state’s approving agency would no longer approve the institution’s programs for G.I. Bill benefits after June 30.”

    Via Politico: “The Education Department is once again pushing back the timing of an interim step in its implementation of the Obama administration’s ’gainful employment’ rule, which aims at cracking down on for-profit colleges. The department says it won’t start the 45-day clock on data challenges from colleges (initially slated to begin today) until ‘later in June.’”

    Via Techcrunch: “Flatiron School teams up with Re:Coded to help Syrian refugees learn to code.”

    More on various lawsuits against for-profits in the courts section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    Via The LA TImes: “The gunman who killed a UCLA professor before committing suicide on campus Wednesday left behind a ‘kill list’ and is suspected in the shooting death of a woman in Minnesota, authorities said.”

    UC Davis suffered a week-long LMS outage, and lots of folks had to weigh in with their thoughts on what this meant about Sakai, running one’s own infrastructure, and open source. “The end is near,” as Buzzfeed put it. Interestingly, the University of Calgary was hit with a massive malware attack, taking out email– EMAIL! – for the week and no one had a “hot take” on what this episode means for the future of that particular piece of university tech or, more broadly, schools' ability to manage their own tech infrastructure. Weird.

    Brigham Young professor told not to give fake urine to his students to drink.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “BYU Police Are Investigated for Handling of Sexual-Assault Reports.”

    Via “[Paterson]’s school district is investigating a rap video, filled with drug references and a stripper, that was filmed at one of its high schools, officials confirmed. City native and rap superstar Fetty Wap released a music video last week for his latest single, ‘Wake Up,’ filmed at Eastside High School, according to social media posts by the rapper. The district confirmed to NJ Advance Media late Tuesday night that the video was shot at the school and that they are now investigating who allowed it.”

    Via “Kean University flouted state law and its own policies in spending $250,000 for a custom Chinese-made conference table, a state investigation has found.”

    Two stories from the Willamette Week about lead in Portland’s schools: “Portland District Failed to Disclose Excessive Lead Levels at 47 School Buildings.” And “Lead in Portland Public Schools Drinking Water: Two Top Officials Placed on Leave.”

    UNC system president Margaret Spellings says that UNC will not try to enforce the state’s controversial “bathroom law.”

    Larry Cuban on “Integrating Technology In Classrooms: Teach To One in a Oakland Charter School.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Communications Experts Criticize Elsevier-Florida Pilot.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Nigerian Billionaire Criticized for Gift to Lynn University.”

    “Why Is a High School in One of America’s Richest Counties Still Failing?” asks The Atlantic.

    Via The New York Times: “Dreams Stall as CUNY, New York City’s Engine of Mobility, Sputters.” “The Relentless Shabbiness of CUNY: What Is To Be Done?” asks Corey Robin. “CUNY On The Brink” by Ann Larson. “CUNY: canary in the coal mine for American public higher education,” says Bryan Alexander.

    MIT announces new Makerspace.”

    St. Catharine College will close its doors.

    Saint Xavier will close its Arizona campus.

    Dowling College will close.

    Accreditation and Certification

    Kamala Harris, the California state attorney general and Senate candidate, said the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools‘greatly harmed Californian students and consumers’ by continuing to give the green light to a disgraced university operator all the way until its collapse in 2015,” Buzzfeed reports.

    In other news about the ACICS, Buzzfeed also reports that “A college watchdog whose lax oversight has outraged a number of state attorneys general hosted a conference session this month where college administrators learned how to evade attorney general lawsuits.” (Psst. I think Kamala Harris is onto y’all.)

    Via the MIT Media Lab: “What we learned from designing an academic certificates system on the blockchain.”

    “Some thoughts and recommendations on the future of the Open Badges backpack and community” from Doug Belshaw.

    Students at Johns Hopkins University are objecting to a plan that would end the practice of concealing the grades they received during the first semester of their freshmen year. (What’s shown on the transcript is either “satisfactory” or “unsatsifactory.”)

    “Are stackable credentials now a necessity?” asks Education Dive. (Apparently the phrase “stackable credentials” means something more/different than “piecing enough credits to get a degree” because otherwise I can’t imagine why there’s be such a fuss. I mean, other than just the thrill of repeating a new buzzword, of course.)

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The New York Times: “The youngest of the billionaire Koch brothers had a dream: to found a private high school where academically gifted students of all socioeconomic backgrounds would do hands-on projects and learn by solving problems. He poured more than $75 million into building the school, the Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches. But on Friday, he fired the head of school and declined to renew the contracts of the athletic director and the football coach. The moves came after a sexual harassment complaint and an internal investigation into accusations of kickbacks, grade-changing, excessive spending and violations of the rules governing high school sports.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ole Miss Admits Former Assistant Football Coach Helped Falsify ACT Scores.”

    The latest from Baylor University’s failure to address sexual assault allegations show up in the “human resources” section below. Also, more below on research into sexual coercion among athletes.

    From the HR Department

    Ken Starr Says He Will Resign as Baylor’s Chancellor.” The university’s athletics director has also resigned.

    Nancy Zimpher to Resign as SUNY Chancellor in 2017.”

    Akron’s Controversial President Will Resign Immediately.”

    “A Yale professor and his wife who became targets of protests for an email about potentially offensive Halloween costumes are resigning their positions as heads of a residential community at the university,” The New York Times reports.

    The American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Kelly will become UNC’s Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy.

    Via The Guardian: “Almost 400 jobs will be scrapped at London Metropolitan University as it moves all its students from three campuses on to one.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Portland State Graduate Assistants Form Union.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Graduate students reach an agreement with Cornell that could carve a path for them to form a union, rare among private institutions, and avoid the long court battles that have been expected.”

    Via the Seattle Times: “Seattle University’s interim provost has placed Jodi Kelly, dean of the school’s Matteo Ricci College, on administrative leave amid a student protest over the college’s culture and curriculum.”

    The Department of Education is hiring unpaid interns.

    Amazon will share the design of its Career Choice program with other businesses, which isn’t really “open source” but sure, let’s erase all meaning and specificity out of that phrase. That’s how marketing works.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    “American schools are teaching our kids how to code all wrong,” says Globaloria’s Idit Harel. I’m going to borrow her phrase “pop computing,” I think, to describe many learn-to-code products.

    Zynga and NewSchools Venture Fund’s ed-tech accelerator program, co.lab, is shutting its doors.

    Via Edsurge: “Try Before You Buy: Clever’s ‘Co-Pilot’ Aims to Help Schools Pilot and Purchase.”

    Daniel Willingham on “Ed tech purchasing decisions.”

    Franchising and the McDonalds-ization of education.

    Related: “Success Academy Charter Schools Plans to Share Curriculum Online.”

    Via The Baltimore Sun: “Company says it can predict whether a teacher will be good – before entering a classroom.” Riiiiight. “The four-year-old company [TeacherMatch] says that its proprietary screening tool– the Educators Professional Inventory – can accurately predict whether a prospective hire will be an effective teacher, and more specifically whether they will be able to boost students’ test scores.” Proprietary algorithms so no way third party verification, no research. But hey. This company was just acquired – more on that in “The Business of Ed-Tech” section below – so it has to be legit, right?

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Remember Second Life? Its Fans Hope to Bring VR Back to the Classroom.” Michael Horn also trumpets the “Virtual Reality Disruption” this week in an article in EducationNext.

    Via The New York Times: “Rhodes Scholarship Program to Expand.”

    Also via The New York Times: “A Mission to Bring STEM Skills, and Robots, to Children in West Africa.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Private student loans could function more effectively – and be a more useful tool for helping students pay for postsecondary education – if lenders made them using criteria such as institutional quality and the likely return on a student’s investment rather than credit scores and co-signers, the authors of a new report from the American Enterprise Institute argue. The authors, Andrew P. Kelly and Kevin J. James, say that student loans made by non-government lenders – which have shrunk to under 10 percent of all loans disbursed to students – could play a more central role if they are were based more on market forces and if they were not backed by significant federal guarantees.” For what it’s worth, “market forces” have made loan startups one of the most popular areas for VC investment in recent years.

    Via Techcrunch: “VetTechTrek is creating an e-learning platform to help veterans build careers in the tech industry.”

    Cengagesays that for fiscal year 2016, its digital textbooks outsold its print textbooks for the first time.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Colleges that accommodate transgender students by letting them choose preferred names and pronouns find their efforts hindered by out-of-date software and federal reporting requirements.”

    Not sure why [this](How Students and Faculty Think Critically With Medium) is about Medium and not about blogging in general other than the compulsion to always promote some corporate brand.

    Via Edsurge: “Three Rookie Mistakes That Edtech Entrepreneurs Make.” I’d add “knowing nothing about ed-tech history,” “knowing nothing about ed-tech research,” and “believing all the hype you hear from VCs and VC-funded publications.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Y Combinator announces basic income pilot experiment in Oakland.”

    (Related: “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” according to Eduardo Porter in The NYT.)

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Udemy has raised another $60 million, this time from the South African media group Naspers (which just last month invested $15 million in the homework help site Brainly). Udemy, which offers a marketplace for online classes, has raised $173 million total. This new investment, it says, will help it expand internationally.

    Learn-to-code startup Tynker has raised $7.1 million from Cervin Ventures, Felicis Ventures, New Ground Ventures, Reach Capital, Relay Ventures, GSV Capital, NEA, John Katzman, and Deborah Quazzo. The company has raised $10.35 million total.

    Lost My Name has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding from Project A Ventures. The personalized storytelling startup has raised $14.3 million total.

    Planet3 has raised $3 million from Switch, a data center company which also funded Planet3’s previous round. The gaming startup has raised $13 million total.

    EduRev, a note-sharing platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from undisclosed investors.

    PeopleAdmin has acquiredTeacherMatch, which as I note in the “upgrade” section above makes bold (and unsubstantiated) promises about being able to hire teachers that improve test scores because of its amazing predictive modeling product. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but you’ve got to imagine if the startup can address the whole bad teachers and unsatisfactory test scores problem, that it’s worth bajillions and bajillions.

    NewSchools Venture Fund announced the latest “NewSchools Invent cohort,” which will receive some $3 million in grants to open new schools.

    It’s not ed-tech funding news, but since folks like to invoke the “Uber for education” phrase far too often, I’ll make note of this (via the MIT Technology Review): “The government of Saudi Arabia is investing $3.5 billion in the ride-hailing giant Uber. The announcement, which came late Wednesday, makes Uber by far the richest venture-backed company. And by not only taking money from an oppressive regime but also naming Yasir Al Rumayyan – the manager of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – to its board, it ups its already impressive list of questionable business tactics to new levels.”

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    “Police are filing warrants for Android's vast store of location data,” The Verge reports (but it’s going to be awesome, I hear, when you can run Android apps on your school’s Chromebooks).

    Via Techcrunch: “Recently confirmed Myspace hack could be the largest yet.”

    Via Education Dive: “IT security in education on the decline.”

    Via “Probable security breach may have compromised thousands of Lewis Palmer students’ data.” More from Bill Fitzgerald.

    “Who has ownership of campus analytics?” asks Education Dive. Spoiler alert: not students.

    Via NPR: “What One District’s Data Mining Did For Chronic Absence.”

    Software for Stopping Freedom.”

    Data and “Research”

    Mary Meeker’s 2016 internet trends report.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What the Slowdown in Ed-Tech Investment Means for Colleges.”

    Ed-Tech Funding Data, May 2016.”

    Via VC firm Reach Capital: “2016 Edtech Outlook.”

    “Which major is the best?” asks Pearson. “Try marketing.” I LOL’d.

    “No, Blackboard Report Did Not Conclude That Online Classes Are ’A Poorer Experience,” says Phil Hill.

    Via Edutechnica: “Sakai by the Numbers.”

    Via Education Week’s Market Brief: “The Popularity of the Open Ed. Resource EngageNY, By the Numbers.”

    From the Center for Education Policy at Harvard: “DreamBox Learning Achievement Growth in the Howard County Public School System and Rocketship Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than half of intercollegiate and recreational athletes in a new study say they have pressured women into having sex.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students who enroll in certificate, associate and bachelor’s programs at for-profit colleges and universities generally see a decline in earnings (and typically greater debt) five or six years after attendance, compared to their earnings before enrollment, according to a study released Monday.” A link to the full report is here.

    Via The Pacific Standard: “It's Not Just For-Profit Schools That Are Failing Students.”

    Economic Impact of Suspending 10th Graders: $35 Billion, Study Says.”

    Via NPR: “Practice Makes Possible: What We Learn By Studying Amazing Kids.”

    Via FiveThirtyEight: “What We’re Missing In Measuring Who's Ready For College.”

    The latest in measuring learning from Richard Arum of Academically Adrift fame: “Plan to Define and Test What Students Should Know.” Arum and co-author Josipa Roksa also have an op-ed in Inside Higher Ed on assessment.

    Via Techcrunch: “Nearly 1 in 4 people abandon mobile apps after only one use.” So when folks insist “the future of education is mobile” (and mean “apps” and not “the Web”), do keep this statistic in mind.


    You can also receive Hack Education blog posts via email. (Sign up here.) I also send out a weekly newsletter that includes links to some of the most thought-provoking things I’ve read about the history of the future of education and technology. (Sign up here.)

    And remember, my work is funded through reader donations not by venture capital or by advertisements. I appreciate your support.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 06/08/16--01:01: Losing Our Pigeons
  • "With or without aversive contingencies, it is easy to 'lose our pigeon' and the student never becomes a reader" -- B. F. Skinner, The Technology of Teaching

    I’m a bit tardy on writing up my thoughts on the “rebranding,” if you will, of Hack Education – namely, the addition of new logos drawn by the wonderful Bryan Mathers.

    Bryan and I had a couple of chats via Skype in order to help him design the imagery that I wanted. We talked at length about pigeons and behaviorism and ed-tech criticism and steampunk. He came back with several sketches, from which I chose the ideas I like the best:

    (I’m planning on ordering laptop stickers (and t-shirts – at least for me) with these images. More details to come…)

    Talking with Bryan prompted me to clarify a bit why the pigeon is such an intriguing figure to me, and I plan to develop some of these ideas into a keynote I’m delivering this fall at DeL. The theme of that conference is “Anxiety and Security” and certainly the pigeon is a bird that seems to crystallize some of our fears – disgust mostly – about urbanization. It’s a bird that crystallizes some of my fears – and also disgust – about ed-tech.

    I chose the pigeon as a motif for Hack Education a couple of years ago, as I’ve written previously, because of the role the bird played in the development of educational psychology and education technology. (Sidenote: I’m a little frustrated by recent pronouncements that education technology needs to have its own discipline. Once again, the lack of historicism by ed-tech’s advocates is striking.) The pigeon is probably most closely associated with B. F. Skinner and his work on operant conditioning, but earlier scientists – including those who founded the field of modern educational psychology, such as Edward Thorndike – also worked with animals and built various devices to test their intelligence.

    When I told Bryan that I wish ed-tech could be “less pigeon,” I meant that I wanted my work to both highlight the longstanding relationship between behaviorism and testing – built into the ideology and the infrastructure since ed-tech’s origins in the early twentieth century – and to remind people that there are also alternatives to treating students like animals to be trained.

    To be clear, the command to “be less pigeon” shouldn’t be seen as any slight on the pigeon itself. Indeed, I find the bird to be quite beautiful and more than a little subversive. Its plumage, captured so well by Bryan, often shimmers with a surprising iridescence. Some species of the bird are incredibly striking – the headdress on the Victoria crowned pigeon, for example.

    Nevertheless, the black, white, and grey pigeons commonly found in cities elicit strong negative opinions and stern city policies – “Do not feed the pigeons! – (as well as lots of questions about why I’d think to use pigeon imagery so liberally across my websites). But our hatred of these birds (and by ”our" I should clarify that I mean specifically North American and Western European) is very recent. It’s only been in the last century or so that we’ve distinguished the pigeon from the dove. The dove has retained its symbolic power as a bird of peace; the pigeon is now seen as a marker of defilement, of urban decay.

    The rock pigeon was domesticated some 5000 years ago. Today’s city-dwelling pigeons are the feral ancestors of these domesticated birds. They are the ancestors of the pigeons that escaped. They are neither domesticated nor wild. They are – with apologies to Donna Haraway here– a companion species gone awry, a border creature that might mark its own and our own trainability, a reminder of what happens when our cyborg fantasies, despite their subversive theoretical promise, turn out to be quite submissive to the technologies of command and control.

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  • 06/10/16--01:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Spending Bill Could Revive Year-Round Pell Grants.”

    Via The Chicago Sun Times: “A private foundation started by the late Walmart mogul Sam Walton and his wife has contributed heavily to the Illinois State Charter School Commission and to two charter operators whose schools the state agency has blocked the Chicago Board of Education from closing over poor student performance, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.”

    Via the San Jose Mercury News: “A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling for a state audit of a profitable but low-performing network of online charter schools following this newspaper’s investigation of K12 Inc., the Virginia company at the heart of the operation.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has signed into law a measure that requires the state’s public colleges and universities to publish reports of conduct violations involving alcohol, drugs, sexual assault, and hazing at fraternities and sororities.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Historically black universities have been dropped from a controversial North Carolina bill slashing tuition at certain institutions to $500, but worries about the legislation’s effects remain high at two universities still facing tuition cuts – and across the state system.”

    Via DelawareOnline: “The first step to reducing violence among young people is to have police officers assigned to elementary and middle schools, says a coalition of state officials, education administrators and police.” Ugh. No.

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    I guess we have our “presumptive nominees” now from the two major political parties. And now, onward, with 5 more months of presidential campaigning. Ugh.

    A must-read on Trump University from Ars Technica: “Trump University and the art of the get-rich seminar.” Here are some reading suggestions from ProPublica: “The Absolute Best, Most Terrific Reporting on Trump University.” And the latest on the court case/Trump University scandal: Via NPR: “Texas Governor Linked To Trump University Fraud Case.” See also, via The Texas Tribune: “In Texas, Trump U Shut Down After State Scrutiny.” Via the AP: “Florida AG asked Trump for donation before nixing fraud case.”

    Education in the Courts

    Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker.” Note the page views: over 15 million.

    Light Sentence for Brock Turner in Stanford Rape Case Draws Outrage.” Also via The New York Times: “Judge Aaron Persky Under Fire for Sentencing in Stanford Rape Case.”

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute is being sued by a student who was raped by a security guard at a building where she and other WPI students lived in Puerto Rico while on a research program,” Inside Higher Ed reports. WPI blames the victim.

    Here’s the EdWeek headline: “Company Exec. for Ed-Tech Company Testifies in Ala. Politician’s Trial.” The details: “Michael Humphrey, executive vice president at Edgenuity, testified in the ethics trial of state House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who is accused in a 23-count indictment of using his clout to attract business for companies he leads. Humphrey testified that he hired Hubbard on a $7,500-per-month consulting contract to connect him to legislative leaders in other states, as Edgenuity tried to sell digital courses.” Gee, good thing no one else in ed-tech is in the business of selling these sorts of connections between companies and politicians and schools!

    Via Politico: “A federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina Tuesday declined a request by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to move his lawsuit against the Obama administration and its staunch defense of transgender student rights under Title IX to the state’s Middle District court. The motion to move the case wasn’t opposed by the Justice Department, which is countersuing McCrory in the state’s Middle District. But Judge Terrence Boyle in the Eastern District said McCrory’s lawsuit is in the right place – the Eastern District is ‘the site of the state capitol and where the legislature and governor reside and act,’ he said in an order. The order pretty much guarantees that there will be a two-front battle over North Carolina’s so-called ‘bathroom law’ in two separate federal district courts. Both cases are going before judges who are generally considered conservative.”

    More on lawsuits in the sports section below and the poop emoji section above.

    Testing, Testing…

    “This is the most racist math test you’ll ever see,” says Vox.

    Via The New York Times: “China Threatens Jail Time for College Entrance Exam Cheaters.”

    Ohio State Accuses 85 Students of Cheating on Online Tests,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via The Texas Tribune: “A high-performing West Austin school district says it was told the state’s new testing vendor misplaced some or all of the STAAR exams its 3rd through 8th graders took this spring. But New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service says that’s not true.” ETS says it hasn’t lost the tests. It just doesn’t have them yet.

    ETS says it will discourage graduate departments from relying too much on GRE scores.

    According to EdSource, parents in California will receive “easier-to-read” reports on their children’s Smarter Balanced test scores.

    Columbia Drops SAT Subject Tests Requirement,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    According to the conservative news site The Daily Caller, “Bailing On Common Core Tests Is Costing States Millions.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Remember Richard McKenzie? He was an instructor in one of several high-profile Coursera failures back in 2013. (Here’s The Chronicle headline from then: “Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching.”) Great reporting this week from Steve Kolowich on the UC Irvine professor’s run-in with the MOOC machine: “After the Gold Rush: MOOCs, money, and the education of Richard McKenzie.”

    Reuters reports that “Online education firm Udacity looks beyond tech sector.” From the story: “Online education company Udacity plans to branch out of its core technology market to meet growing demand for digitally-skilled workers in areas such as banking and the car industry, its co-founder told Reuters as the company launched in Germany.”

    “Should Your Online Course Sound Like ‘Serial’?” asks Edsurge. I’m not sure what this means as the article talks about both “authenticity” (whatever that is) and the gender of instructors on various MOOC platforms.

    Good thing I never did anything in those MOOCs, otherwise I'd be losing my work.

    Career and Technical Education, Coding Bootcamps, and The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, a group representing for-profit colleges and universities, is once again changing its name, it announced on Monday. Now the group will be called Career Education Colleges and Universities, to reflect its focus on career training.” Here’s the organization’s press release, announcing the rebranding.

    Another for-profit chain on the brink? “Education Department Orders ITT Educational to Bolster Finances,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Via the IndyStar: “The Carmel company that runs the ITT Technical Institute chain of for-profit colleges has yet to decide how it will respond to a new federal requirement that it set aside extra money to protect students in case it collapses.” “Could intense federal scrutiny lead to ITT’s collapse?” asks Education Dive.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “For-profit Ashford University, facing loss of access to GI Bill benefits by month’s end, needs approval from a state to stop thousands of student veterans from losing aid.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “American Career Institute, a now-closed for-profit institution that operated in Massachusetts and Maryland, admitted to engaging in deceptive schemes and violating state law, according to the state’s attorney general.”

    More on for-profits in the accreditation section below.

    Meanwhile on (Traditional?) Campuses

    Inside the largest charter school theft in Georgia history.”

    When you’re 21 and this is your second campus shooting.”

    Via The New York Times: “Where Nearly Half of Pupils Are Homeless, School Aims to Be Teacher, Therapist, Even Santa.”

    Dowling College is closing. No. Wait. “Dowling College to Remain Open for Now,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “On Eve of Graduation, University of Chicago Student President Faces Expulsion.” (He was among protesters calling for a living wage for campus workers.)

    Also via The New York Times: “Indian Students Lured by Recruiters Asked to Leave University.” (That is, Western Kentucky University, which aggressively recruited international students.)

    Via NPR: “The One-Room Schoolhouse That’s A Model For The World.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Free Year of Community College at Folsom Lake.”

    Contrasting community college takes: a Pearson op-ed in Edsurge versus pretty much anything “Dean Dad” writes.

    Via The Washington Post: “Teach for America retools efforts to recruit graduates from top colleges.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Senator Elizabeth Warrensays that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has a “long record of failure” and urges that the “glaring lack of oversight” that the accrediting body has had for for-profit universities warrants federal scrutiny.

    The Center for American Progress also slammed the ACICS in a report issued this week.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Watchdog Let $6 Billion In Federal Funds Go To Colleges Under Government Investigation.” ACICS is clearly a terrible watchdog.

    “Accreditor of For-profit Colleges Agrees It Needs a Makeover,” says ProPublica. ACICS is freezing new membership, which is a start, I guess?

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via the Los Angeles Daily News: “El Camino High principal moonlighted as NBA scout, billed travel to school.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A former captain of Yale University’s men’s basketball team is suing the university in federal court over its decision to expel him in February after he was accused of sexual assault by another student.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study, published in the Academy of Management Journal, suggests that when ‘high-reputation’ institutions – colleges and universities ranked among the top 50 institutions by U.S. News & World Report – run afoul of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, they actually see an initial increase in support from alumni. But that surge in alumni support declines as a program racks up more violations, and nonalumni are less likely to donate after even a single infraction.” Go team.

    From the HR Department

    Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined the Board of Directors of the skills training company Pluralsight. (He’s also a VC at the Emerson Collective, an investment firm run by Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs.)

    Adjuncts at McDaniel College have voted to unionize.

    Via The Chicago Sun Times: “City Colleges chief to end stormy six-year run with long goodbye.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “George Washington U.’s President to Step Down Next Year.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Some surprising reasons companies are rushing to help their workers get degrees.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Microsoft has released an early access version of its Minecraft: Education Edition. While it’s free for the summer, the official release in the fall will cost between $1 and $5 per user. From Dean Groom: “Why not to buy Minecraft Education Edition.”

    In other Microsoft/Minecraft news, the company will donate $10,000 to the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics to build a Minecraft Lab at a local school. That doesn’t seem like much money if you’re selling access to your students as a “case study” for a tech company. But hey. Minecraft.

    Via The New York Times on Tim Berners Lee’s latest: “The Web’s Creator Looks to Reinvent It.”

    From the press release: “Learning Machine and MIT Media Lab Release Blockchain Technology for Educational Credentials.”

    It’s not ed-tech, but you know some enterprising person will come up with an education application (maybe Class Dojo?): “Waking up with Pavlok’s wrist-shocking wearable alarm clock.”

    Also not education per se, but I’m including it here as his stunt was a copy of activism undertaken by Rolling Jubilee to erase student loan debt: “For His Latest Trick, John Oliver Forgives $15 Million in Medical Debt.” Kudos. But… A response from the Debt Collective: “Who’s Afraid of Occupy? The John Oliver Show Erases Debt Resistance.”

    Chicago-based startup The Graide Network lets teachers outsource grading via a marketplace for “on demand teaching assistants.” Sounds totally legit and not at all like a FERPA or HR violation. Details on the startup via ChicagoInno.

    Tinder discontinues service for users under 18,” Techcrunch reports.

    Via the BBC: “Tutoring is one the world’s oldest professions, but even a vocation so entrenched cannot escape the rising ‘Uberisation’ of daily life.” Blech.

    "Gates Foundation failures show philanthropists shouldn’t be setting America’s public school agenda," says The LA Times, which has been pretty happy to go along with that agenda.

    Dan Meyer writes “Why Secondary Teachers Don’t Want a GitHub for Lesson Plans,” in a response to Chris Lusto who suggests that we do (or at least “We need GitHub for math curriculum.”) Lots of comments on these posts about lesson sharing sites, about the value of creating one’s own course materials, and about what GitHub can and cannot do.

    “A psychology instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University says he was forced to choose between his principles and the wishes of his publisher as part of a disagreement about the textbook industry and the role of open educational resources,” Inside Higher Ed reports in a story of how Rajiv S. Jhangiani withdrew a chapter from the anthology Thematic Approaches for Teaching Introductory Psychology.

    Winnie is a new mobile app that, according to Techcrunch, “helps parents find family-friendly places, share their experiences.”

    Via the press release: “Amazon to Open New Pickup Location Near Texas Tech University.”

    Lifeliqe debuts VR-enabled educational content to keep kids interested in learning,” says Techcrunch. “Debut” is really not the right verb as it’s not actually released a product yet. Oh VR promises. Never change.

    The New York Times on“The Challenges of Closing the Digital Divide.”

    Manufacturing’s return creates greater need from higher ed” is some A+ spin from Education Dive and The Wall Street Journal.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    ABA English has raised $13.7 million for English-language instruction videos. The Crunchbase description makes it sound a little more exciting, I guess: the startup has “a unique teaching methodology and uses its own proprietary technology.” It has raised $15.36 million total.

    ApprenNet has raised $4 million in Series A funding from City Light Capital, Social Capital, 1776, and Jefferson Education. The video learning company has previously raised $1.57 million. This investment will go towards marketing, including a name change to Practice XYZ.

    Cuemath has raised $4 million from Sequoia India and Unitus Seed Fund for its math tutoring centers.

    Citelighter has raised $2.1 million in a convertible note from New York Angels, Baltimore Angels, and Harvard Business School Angels. The startup has raised $6.55 million total.

    Video game company Triseum has raised $1.43 million from an undisclosed set of investors.

    Code Kingdoms has raised $1.4 million from Initial Capital, SparkLabs Global, Charles Mindenhall, and Manoj Badale. The startup, which offers Minecraft tutorials, has raised $1.8 million total.

    Tutoring startup Preply has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Arthur Kosten, RTAventures, and Mariusz Gralewski.

    Fishtree has received an undisclosed amount of investment from Jefferson Education. Up ’til now, the “personalized lesson” company has raised $3 million.

    FoxConn will acquire SMART for $4.50 a share, according to a press release from the smartboard maker.

    PowerSchool has acquired the LMS Haiku Learning for an undisclosed sum.

    Levine Leichtman Capital Partners has acquired testing company GL Education for an undisclosed sum.

    Amplify Slims Down and Spins Off Assessment Content Provider, Fluence,” says Edsurge.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Via eSchool News: “How hackers held a district hostage for almost $10,000.” Hackers, man. (Related: “Companies Are Stockpiling Bitcoin to Pay Off Cybercriminals.” Well, perhaps they could trade some blockchained school certificates too. I hear those are super valuable.)

    Via Mindshift: “What’s At Risk When Schools Focus Too Much on Student Data?”

    Data and “Research”

    Education Week has released its annual report “Technology Counts.”

    The Atlantic on online program management: “How Companies Profit Off Education at Nonprofit Schools.” Via Phil Hill: “Online Program Management: A view of the market landscape.”

    Data from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on “The Troubled Academic Job Market for Humanities.”

    From a Department of Education press release: “New Data Show Chronic Absenteeism is Widespread and Prevalent Among All Student Groups.”

    Via Education Week: “New federal data show a continuing deep gulf between the educational experiences of traditionally disadvantaged student groups and their peers on a broad range of indicators, findings that follow years of efforts by government and advocacy groups to level the playing field in U.S. public schools.”

    Via Slate’s Sarah Carr: “For the first time, there are more students of color than white students in our public schools. How we confront this change will determine the fate of this generation – and the country.”

    “How does philanthropy drive the research agenda in higher ed?” asks Education Dive.

    Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google Are Fighting a War for the Classroom,” says Edutechnica, with a look at how many colleges have adopted their competing pseudo-LMSes.

    The latest claims about “mindsets”: the mindset of a college president; the maker mindset.

    Via Edsurge: “Chasing China’s Edtech Unicorns: A Cautionary Tale.”

    “Foreign Students Seen Cheating More Than Domestic Ones,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Seen” cheating.

    Via CB Insights: “Ed Tech 101: Investors And Corporate Execs Sound Off On Ed Tech Disruption.” Depressingly terrible soundbites.

    “This chart tells a fascinating story about higher education,” says The Washington Post. (It’s a Gates Foundation chart with “America as 100 college students.” What’s fascinating to me about these sorts of charts is they sorta assume readers don’t understand the concept of percentages.)

    Via Education Week: “Common Core, College Readiness Skills Don’t Match Up, Study Says.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Homework Inequality: The Value of Having a Parent Around After School.”

    Stanford University’s Larry Cuban on “Proof Points: Selling and Marketing ‘Blended Learning’ to Educators and Parents.”

    Adaptive Learning Earns an Incomplete,” says Michael Feldstein in a Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed about recent SRI Education research on the technology that shows adaptive learning software doesn’t really make much of a difference on students’ grades. You wouldn’t guess that there are any questions about the efficacy of adaptive learning based on headlines based on recent research about Dreambox Learning: “Customized math lessons could help students learn more, research says,” according to The Hechinger Report. “Harvard Finds That DreamBox Learning Improves Math Test Scores,” according to Edsurge.

    Via Daniel Willingham: “Media multitasking and cognition in teens – new data.”

    From Lumen Learning’s David Wiley: “Some Lessons Learned Supporting OER Adoption.”

    A new research report from the Shanker Institute looks at whether or not public schools are inefficient.

    The One Question Most Americans Get Wrong About College Graduates.”

    According to marketing research by the International Data Corporation, “Tablets will see a decline, then increase in 2018.” I can’t seem to find out how much the IDC will charge you to see the data behind this claim. But hey. The business of selling ed-tech data seems to also be a thriving market.

    RIP educational psychologist Jerome Bruner, who passed away this week at age 100. Remembrances from Education Week, The Atlantic, and Brain Pickings.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    I was invited to speak this evening to Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt’s class on current ed-tech issues, #ECI830. As part of the course, students are engaging in a “Great Ed-Tech Debate,” arguing one side or another of a variety of topics: that technology enhances learning, that technology is a force for equity, that social media is ruining childhood, and so on. Tonight’s debate: “Public education has sold its soul to corporate interests in what amounts to a Faustian bargain.” Here are some of the remarks I made to the class about commercialization and education technology.

    Ed-tech is big business. I’ll start with some numbers: According to one market analyst firm, the ed-tech market totaled $8.38 billion in the 2012–13 academic year. 2015 was a record year for ed-tech investment, with some $2.98 billion in venture capital going to startups in the industry. Companies and venture capitalists alike see huge opportunities for what they insist will be a growing market: last year, McKinsey called education a $1.5 trillion industry. One firm predicted that the “smart education and learning market” will grow from $105.23 billion in 2015 to $446.85 billion by 2020. Testing and assessment are the largest category of this market. Testing and assessment remain the primary reason why schools buy computers; these are also the primary purposes for which teachers say they use new technologies in their classrooms.

    We can’t talk about corporate interests and ed-tech without talking about testing. We can’t talk about corporate interests and ed-tech without talking about politics and policies. Why do we test? Why do we measure? Why has this become big business? Why has this become the cornerstone of education policy?

    There’s something about our imagination and our discussion of education technology that, I’d contend, triggers an amnesia of sorts. We forget all history – all history of technology, all history of education. Everything is new. Every problem is new. Every product is new. We’re the first to experience the world this way; we’re the first to try to devise solutions.

    So when people say that education technology enables a takeover of public schools by corporate interests, it’s pretty easy to look at history and respond “No. Not true.” Schools have long turned to outside, commercial vendors in order to provide goods and services: pencils, paper, chairs, desks, clocks, bells, chalkboards, milk, crackers, playground equipment, books. But rather than pointing to this and insisting that there’s always been someone selling things to schools and therefore selling to schools is perfectly acceptable, we should look more closely at how the relationship between public schools and vendors has changed over time: what’s being sold, who’s doing the selling, and how all that influences what happens in the classroom and what happens in the stories society tells itself about education. The changes here – to the stories, to the markets – aren’t merely a result of more “ed-tech,” but again, we need to ask if and how and why “ed-tech” might be a symptom of an increasing commercialization of education not just the disease.

    Again, when we talk about “ed-tech,” we usually focus on recent technologies. We don’t typically consider the chalkboard, the textbook, the pencil, the window, the photocopier. When we say “ed-tech,” we often mean “computers.” But even then we don’t think of the large mainframe computers and the terminals that students were using in the 1970s, for example. Ed-tech amnesia: we act as though nobody thought about using computers in the classroom until Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, or something. Indeed, a founder of an ed-tech company was recently cited in The New York Times as saying “Education is one of the last industries to be touched by Internet technology,” to which I have to offer an important correction: universities actually helped invent the Internet. (And I want to return to this point in a minute: who do we identify – schools or businesses, the public sector or the private sector – as being the locus of ed-tech “innovation”?)

    I am particularly interested in the history of education technologies that emerged before the advent of the personal or mainframe computer, before the Internet, in the early parts of the twentieth century. This is when, for example, we saw the development of educational psychology as a field and in turn the development of educational assessment. This is when the multiple choice test was first developed, as well as the machines that could grade these types of tests. To give you some dates: Frederick Kelly is often credited with the invention of the multiple choice test in 1914; the first US patent for a machine to score this type of test – that is, to detect pencil marks on paper and compare them to an answer key – was filed in 1937. IBM launched a commercial service for a “test scoring machine” that same year.

    Speaking of commercial services and commercial interests then, standardized testing was already a big business by the 1920s. Enrollment in public schools was growing rapidly at this time, and these sorts of assessments were seen as more “objective” and more “scientific” than the insights that classrooms teachers – mostly women, of course – could provide. Public schools were viewed as failing – failing to educate, failing to enculturate, failing to produce career and college and military-ready students. (Of course, public schools have always been viewed as failing.) They were deemed grossly inefficient, and politicians and administrators alike insisted that schools needed to be run more like businesses. The theories of scientific management were applied to schools, and “schooling” – the process, the institution – increasingly became viewed as a series of inputs and outputs that could be measured and controlled.

    Computers, in many many ways, are simply an extension of this. Learning analytics is often framed as a “hot new trend” in education. But it’s actually quite an old one. Thanks to new technologies, we do have more data now to feed these measurements and assessments.

    We also have, thanks to new technologies, a renewed faith in “data” as holding all the answers: the answers to how people learn, the answers to how students succeed, the answers to why students fail, the answers to which teachers improve test scores, the answers to which college majors make the most money, the answers to which TV shows make you smarter or which breakfast cereals makes you dumber, and so on. Again, this obsession with data isn’t new; it’s rooted in part in Taylorism – in a desire for maximized efficiency (which is in turn a desire for maximized cost-savings and maximized profitability).

    There’s an inherent conflict, I’d argue, between a culture that demands learning efficiency and a culture that recognizes learning messiness. It’s one of the reasons that schools – public schools – have been viewed as spaces distinct from businesses. Humans are not widgets. The cultivation of a mind cannot be mechanized. It should not be mechanized. Nevertheless, that’s been the impetus – an automation of education – behind much of education technology throughout the twentieth century. The commercialization of education is just one part of this larger ideology.

    Alongside the push for more efficiency in education – through technology, through scientific management – has been a call for more competition in education. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, for example, called for school vouchers in the 1950s, arguing that families should be able to use public dollars to send their children to any school, public or private – one should be “free to choose,” as he put it – and that choice and competition would necessarily improve education. During the latter half of the twentieth century, this idea of competition and of outsourcing gained political prominence. Some schools started to turn to outside vendors for remedial education – to companies like Sylvan Learning, for example. And some schools started to turn to vendors for instruction in specific content areas, such as foreign languages. By the 1990s, companies like Edison were offering “school management” in its entirety as a for-profit business. These were never able to demonstrate that they were better than traditional public schools; often they were much worse.

    But as my short history here should underscore, the privatization of all or part of public schools was already well underway, in no small part because of the power of this dominant narrative: that competition and efficiency was the purview of the private sector and was something that the public sector simply couldn’t get right.

    No surprise, I suppose, this is the story you hear a lot from today’s technology and education technology entrepreneurs and investors – many of whom are involved politically and financially in “education reform” efforts. It’s as I cited at the outset: there’s almost complete amnesia about the long history of ed-tech and about the role that schools have played in the development of the tech itself and of associated pedagogical practices. (LOGO came from MIT. The web browser came from the University of Illinois. PLATO came from the University of Illinois. TurnItIn came from Berkeley. WebCT came from UBC. Google’s origins are at Stanford. ) Nevertheless, you’ll hear this: “school is broken” – it’s that old story again and again. Tech companies assure us that they’ll fix it. Fixing schools requires “innovation”; “innovation” requires the private sector. “Innovative schools” are the ones that have most successfully adopted business practices – scientific management – and that have bought the most technology.

    To reiterate, the problem isn’t simply that schools are spending billions of taxpayer dollars on technology. That is, the problem is not simply that there are businesses that sell products to schools; businesses have always sold products to schools. The problem is that we don’t really examine the ideologies that accompany these technologies. How, for example, do new technologies coincide with ways in which we increasingly monitor and measure students? How do new technologies introduce and reinforce the values of competition, individualism, and surveillance? How do new technologies change the way in which recognize and even desire certain brands in the classroom? How do new technologies – the insistence that we must buy them, we must use them – help to change the purpose of school away from civic goals and towards those defined by the job market? How do new technologies themselves view students as a commercial product?

    When I insist that “there’s a history to ed-tech,” some people hear me say “nothing has changed.” But that’s not my message. Ed-tech in 2016 is different than ed-tech in 1916. I mean, clearly the tech is different. But the political and economic power of tech is different too. Some of the biggest names in education philanthropy are technologists: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. Former members of the US Department of Education now and in the past work for ed-tech companies or as ed-tech investors. And to close with a number that I opened with: last year, one investment analyst firm calculated that $2.98 billion had been invested in ed-tech startups. The money matters. But I’d contend that the narratives that powerful people tell about education and technology might matter even more.

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  • 06/17/16--05:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Education Department Proposes New Regulations to Protect Students and Taxpayers from Predatory Institutions.”

    From the Times Higher Education by way of Inside Higher Ed: “Poll of faculty members and administrators in British higher education finds they want their country to remain in E.U.

    Via The Clarion-Ledger: “Contracts between the Mississippi Department of Education and two of the state superintendent’s former co-workers appear to duplicate technology-related services while costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

    Via The Fresno Bee: “Former Clovis Unified School District superintendent and popular Fresno-area education consultant Terry Bradley was censured and fined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly sharing five school districts’ private information with an advisory company while it was negotiating for the districts’ contracts.”

    Via the AP: “Michelle Obama plans to promote her year-old global girls’ education initiative during upcoming stops in Liberia, Morocco and Spain on what could be her final solo overseas excursion as first lady.” (Hmm. Isn’t Liberia outsourcing its education system to a Gates and Zuckerberg-backed startup, Bridge International Academies? Incidentally, there was a story that’s pro-outsourcing in The New York Times this week.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The service the U.S. Education Department provides to student loan borrowers is ‘poor’ in several areas and needs significant improvement, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report Wednesday.”

    Via the AP: “Gov. John Bel Edwards has agreed to a mandate that cursive writing must be taught in Louisiana’s public school classrooms.”

    More on the politics of accreditation in the accreditation section below. And more on the politics of testing in the testing section below.

    Education in the Courts

    The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this week that “High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility,” affirming the FCC’s position on “net neutrality.”

    Via Politico: “Trump steps up fight to keep Trump University deposition videos secret.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Alabama House Speaker Michael Hubbard was automatically removed from office Friday after a jury convicted him on 12 felony public-corruption charges, adding to the state’s extraordinary political crisis.” I haven’t seen the ed-tech press cover this story, even though one of the charges he faced involved a contract with the ed-tech company Edgenuity. So odd.

    Via The Washington Post: “Former U-Va. law student files suit challenging federal sexual assault directive.” “John Doe” was accused of and found responsible for sexual misconduct and now is claiming that how universities handle these sorts of charges is unfair and unlawful.

    Via The Daily Beast: “The family of a black sixth grader in Texas is suing her school after white students allegedly wrapped a rope around her neck and pulled her to the ground. The $3-million lawsuit accuses Live Oak Classical School in Waco of negligence, gross negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

    Via The Boston Globe: “Back Bay academy sues Springfield school over the name ‘Commonwealth’.” The former, The Commonwealth School, charges $40,000 a year in tuition; the latter, Commonwealth Academy, is a school for “underprivileged students.”

    “Former Lake Michigan College President Jennifer Spielvogel is suing LMC and its Board of Trustees for alleged wrongful termination,” The Herald-Palladium reports.

    “A Swedish college has been ordered to refund tuition fees to an American business student for giving her a poor economics education,” the AP reports. “The Vastmanland court ruled Tuesday the Malardalen University’s two-year program ‘Analytical Finance’ that Connie Askenback attended from 2011 to 2013 ‘had no practical value.’”

    More on court cases in the sports and testing sections below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Alaska Legislature Passes Bill to Suspend Standardized Testing,” Education Week reports.

    Via WaPo: “Leaked ACT college admissions test canceled hours before students were to take it.”

    Via The Dallas Morning News: “As schools continue to get incorrect STAAR results, officials demand that vendor step up scrutiny.”

    Via the AP: “2 ex-El Paso schools administrators guilty in testing scam.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Virtual charter schools need ‘bold action’ for change, says national charter school advocacy group.” The organization is worried that virtual schools – pretty much utter failures – are giving charters a bad rap.

    Headline changed from “Coursera’s Update Will Eliminate Hundreds of Courses” to “Coursera’s Update Will Migrate Hundreds of Courses to a New Platform.” Coursera, initially only emailing former students about their old course work, decided finally to blog about its platform change.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Same Time, Many Locations: Online Education Goes Back to Its Origins.” “Like it’s a TV show.”

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    “Should for-profit crash courses get federal funds?” asks The Economist in an article about coding bootcamps. I mean, for-profit higher ed has such a stellar track record. What could possibly go wrong?

    For-profit higher ed company Education Management Corpsays it will close 22 out of 26 of its Brown Mackie College locations.

    Via The New York Times: “Woes for ITT, a For-Profit School, Bode Worse for Its Students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “For-profit institutions that cater to service members see chance to connect with students in Senate-passed provision expanding access on military bases.”

    The US DOE’s sunk costs into for-profit colleges” by “mathbabe” Cathy O’Neil.

    Obama’s Missed Chance to Help For-Profit College Students” by Ann Larson.

    Some solidly uncritical PR posing as journalism in this lede: “Coding bootcamps play a key role in closing the skills gap between the talent companies need and the competencies workers have.” The coding bootcamp Fullstack Academy is launching an investment fund to support its graduates who want to start startups. Always read the fine print, folks. Always read the fine print. And substitute “for-profit higher ed” for “coding bootcamp” as necessary.

    More on for-profit higher ed in the accreditation section below.

    Meanwhile on Ye Olde Brick and Mortar Campus

    From the press release: “Achieving the Dream Launches Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “Moving to Make Amends, Georgetown President Meets With Descendant of Slaves.”

    Via the Detroit Free Press: “Wayne State drops math as general ed requirement.”

    A follow-up on Dowling College, which may or may not be closing: “Why a Global Education Company Thinks It Can Revive Struggling Dowling College.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    The Department of Education announced this week that it has “recommended that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (or ACICS) should no longer be recognized by the Department as an agency that can provide schools with an accreditation that makes them eligible for participation in federal aid.” Via Buzzfeed: “Education Department Pushes To Terminate College Watchdog.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Call to Shut Down a Controversial Accreditor Could Shake For-Profit Higher Ed.” Via The Pacific Standard: “Higher Education’s Accreditation Problem.”

    Paine College Accreditation to Be Revoked,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A ‘Sports University’ Gives Student-Athletes a Chance to Play but Outsources Their Education.” What could go wrong?!

    Via Boing Boing: “Anonymous source: Stanford pressured female swim team members not to tell judge about Brock Turner’s creepy behavior.”

    From the HR Department

    “One answer to Utah’s teacher shortage,” says The Salt Lake Tribune, “hire people who aren’t teachers.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Santa J. Ono, the University of Cincinnati’s president, has been named the next president of the University of British Columbia.”

    Kickboard Looking for New CEO,” Edsurge reports. Jen Medbery, also the startup's founder, says she's not leaving the company.

    Via Education Week: “Virginia B. Edwards, who as the editor of Education Week since 1989 and president of its parent organization since 1997 led the transformation of a specialty newspaper into a force in web news, education research and events, and, most recently, video journalism, will step down at the end of July.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Green River College’s President Resigns Amid Faculty Protests and Budget Cuts.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart has opted not to pursue an extension of her current contract, a decision coming months after she drew flak for deciding to join the board of for-profit college company DeVry Education Group.”

    Preschool Teachers Earn Less Than Tree Trimmers,” The Atlantic laments.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    ALEX Wants to Fill Classrooms Like Airbnb Fills Beds” is an actual headline, and apparently ALEX is an actual startup.

    The Top 10 Companies Working on Education in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.” This one’s definitely my favorite: “Lecture VR is a VR app … which simulates a lecture hall in virtual reality.”

    “We Shut Down Our Edtech Startup. Here’s What We Learned” by Jawwad Siddiqui, founder of SharpScholar.

    Anil Dash and Gina Trapaniannounced they’re closing down their social media analytics product ThinkUp. It’s not an ed-tech startup, true, but it’s important to look at why they say that this beloved product had become unsustainable. That is, major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter increasingly made it difficult for ThinkUp to work with their APIs. Who owns your data – whether it’s social media or school-related?

    From Phil Hill: “Update on UC Davis LMS Fiasco: Finishing the term with two partial systems.” e-Literate also posted a student’s take on the school’s LMS outage.

    Sakai Is Probably Healthier Than You Think,” Michael Feldstein suggests.

    Inside Higher Ed has a story on Amazon’s employee training program, once again using the phrase “open source” even though this has nothing to do with open source. Nice branding move from Amazon, who seemingly wants to openwash all the things.

    Can Michael Horn write a story without using the phrase “disruption innovation?

    Via Apple: “Swift Playgrounds App Makes Learning to Code Easy & Fun.” Via Techcrunch: “Meet Box Island, a new iOS game that aims to teach kids the fundamentals of code.” Via the Hechinger Report: “Can a wall-climbing robot teach your kid to code?” Can people please read Seymour Papert before launching their learn-to-code product and/or writing PR for it?

    Not education-related per se, but as I’m closely monitoring both the student loan and the blockchain hoopla as ed-tech trends– that is, all the investments investments and all the PR – I’ll drop this here. From the MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito: “The Fintech Bubble.” Meanwhile, here’s The Wall Street Journal: “Companies Answer the Call on Student Debt.”

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Andela has raised $24 million for code school, based in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. Investors in this round were the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, CRE Venture Capital, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, Google Ventures, and Spark Capital. The company has raised $41 million total. (I would love to see the curriculum for these courses.)

    Private school startup Klay Schools has raised $16 million from Peepul Capital and Kaizen Private Equity.

    Flocabulary has raised $1.5 million in convertible note funding from Rethink Education.

    Sokanu has raised an undisclosed sum from USA Funds for its psychometrics-as-career-matching service.

    Here’s how Edsurge frames the funding news about EdTechReview, which it suggests might be its “Indian twin”: “ In India, EdTechReview has raised ‘an undisclosed amount of funding in its pre-Series A round from EVC Ventures,’ according to YourStory. The Delhi-based startup currently offers news, reports, product reviews and plans to run a jobs board and conferences across the country. Hmm...sound familiar?” Um, yes, it sounds like Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, ASCD, Inside Higher Ed, ISTE, EduKwest, Make Magazine, CourseTalk and/or many, many, many other education organizations and publications, although to be fair not all of these take venture funding to promote ed-tech products.

    Homework help site (or if you prefer the company’s branding “social learning platform”) Brainly has acquiredOpenStudy for an undisclosed sum.

    City & Guilds has acquired Digitalme and Makewaves in order to form a new digital credentialing business, Doug Belshaw reports. More via Digitalme’s Tim Riches.

    There hadn’t been any education IPOs this year until China Online Education Group’s this week. The stock’s now trading at $20.26 a share.

    Microsoft announced it would make its largest acquisition ever, buyingLinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Hot takes on the acquisition (and what it means for the future of education and/or work): “Why LinkedIn Will Make You Hate Microsoft Word.” The Udacity blog weighs in because this has implications, apparently, for nanodegree career readiness. Edsurge weighs in but doesn’t say much. IHE’s Joshua Kim weighs in, also not really offering a lot of analysis but still hopeful that Microsoft will someday buy Coursera. (I predict it’ll be Amazon because of that openwashing thing I mentioned earlier.) In other Microsoft news: “The First Big Company to Say It’s Serving the Legal Marijuana Trade? Microsoft.”

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Some Observations on Kahoot!” by Bill Fitzgerald. The company was profiled by The New York Times earlier this year, but Fitzgerald looks closely at privacy issues that weren’t really addressed in that story.

    University of Calgary pays ransom after attack on computer systems,” The Globe and Mail reports.

    Via Edsurge: “Preparing Schools for Ransomware– the Next Big Threat to Education.”

    Data and “Research”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Facebook Reveals How It Decides if a Research Project Is Ethical.”

    The Online Learning Consortiumfinds students prefer online learning (contrary to other surveys that find they do not. Weird).

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Knowing how often college students log onto learning management software is one of the best ways to predict whether they will stick with their studies or drop out.” Via Education Dive: “Is predictive analytics a step too far in student assistance?

    Could student loan repayment models from other countries work in the United States?

    Are effective retention strategies dependent upon ed tech?

    Is the answer to a headline in the form of a question always “no”?

    “U.S., Global K–12 Markets for Personal Computing Devices Slow,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief, drawing on research from Futuresource Consulting. Funnily enough, a different research firm has a different prediction: “Global classroom wearables technology to grow,” says ECampusNews, drawing on research from Research and Markets.

    Via Salon: “It’s official – *the internet is making us dumb*: The more you read online, the worse you write.” No, Salon. You’re dumb.

    Report: California public colleges not producing enough STEM degrees.”

    Half of teachers comfortable with tech, but most use it for testing.” Ed-tech uber alles.

    Hot takes on soft skills from the guys at Education Next: “Time to Flit the Grit” by Russ Whitehurst. “Russ Whitehurst Throws Cold Water on the Grit Craze, But Is the Water Too Cold?” by Jay Greene. “What ‘Hamilton’ and Its 11 Tonys Say About Grit and Privilege” by Andy Smarick.

    From a press release from the University of Leicester: “Who’s the best-equipped superhero? Student research settles ‘superpower showdown.’” But which superhero has the most grit, Education Next?

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 06/24/16--05:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    I watched the results roll in from the Brexit referendum last night with great, great sadness. My mum is British, and I’ve always joked that my British passport is one of my most prized possessions. I am gravely concerned for the future of my youngest family members, who’ve had their futures immeasurably altered by this election. I’m gravely concerned for all our futures frankly, as a xenophobic populism, blended with a neoliberal greed, sweeps the West. I suppose I’ll save the rest of this rant for my newsletter

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “British citizens voted on Thursday for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, ushering in a period of uncertainty for universities. The margin was 52 to 48 percent. Many in higher education opposed a British exit, or Brexit, from the union, arguing that membership in the E.U. helps enable international research collaborations and that free movement across member states helps U.K. universities attract top scholars and students.”

    Via the BBC (from Monday): “Mexico teachers protest: Six killed in Oaxaca clashes.” Via Democracy Now: “‘The Battle Has Just Started’: Activists Denounce Police Killings & Crackdowns on Teachers in Oaxaca.”

    Via inside Higher Ed: “The Obama administration has chosen 67 colleges and universities for a pilot program that will offer Pell Grants to incarcerated students.”

    “Schools, Libraries Miss Out on Millions in E-Rate Funds,” according to EdTech Magazine– some $245 million for the 2014 fiscal year.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “With two executive orders, Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky has thrown the leadership and governance of the University of Louisville into chaos. The governor, a Republican elected in 2015, announced on Friday that he had disbanded the university’s current 20-member Board of Trustees. He has put in place a six-member interim board to oversee the institution, with three new appointees and the current faculty, staff, and student representatives.”

    President Obamamight become a venture capitalist after leaving office. (That’s what former Department of Education folks, Arne Duncan and Jim Shelton, have done. And of course current Undersecretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, is a former VC.) Bonus points if former British PM David Cameron becomes one too.

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    How Not to Study Donald Trump” – “To make sense of Trumpism, and to put Trump in his historical context, The Chronicle of Higher Education asked a mostly white group of scholars to suggest readings for a syllabus for a mock course in Trump Studies. They returned a syllabus that was all-white in composition – not just in that the primary authors of the books selected contained no people of color but the books themselves largely avoided America's colonial-settler, chattel-slavery, and racist-imperial history.”

    Will for-profit higher ed be an election issue? Via Gawker: “The Clintons Have a For-Profit College Problem Of Their Own.” Via Inside Higher Ed: “Fact-Checking Trump Assertion on Clinton For-Profit Ties.”

    Education in the Courts

    “The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the University of Texas at Austin‘s consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions. Some parts of the decision in the case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, related to features unique to that university,“ Inside Higher Ed reports. It’s an old post, but FiveThirtyEight re-upped it this week in light of the SCOTUS decision: ”Here’s What Happens When You Ban Affirmative Action In College Admissions.“ Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: ”Why Twitter Is Calling Abigail Fisher ’Becky With the Bad Grades’: A Brief Explainer.” Thank goodness for education journalism.

    The Supreme Courtsplit 4–4 on the Obama Administration’s immigration reform proposals, “which would have allowed up to 4.5 million immigrants to apply for protection from deportation and work legally in the US.” As Vox reports, “The Court announced Thursday that it was unable to reach a decision in the case United States v. Texas. That means the ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stands – which had kept the programs (known as DAPA and DACA+) from going into effect.” (The decision raises some questions about educational benefits extended to “Dreamers.”)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A superior court judge will decide in August whether the University of California, San Diego, can schedule a new disciplinary hearing for a student accused of cheating five years ago. Last year, a state appeals court ruled that UCSD officials violated the student’s right to due process when they concealed the identity of a critical witness in the case.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “These days, everyone’s talking about ‘equity,’ and now a testing company has affixed the word to a new effort. The company behind the ACT on Wednesday announced plans for a Center for Equity in Learning, which will focus on helping underserved students succeed in college and the work force.”

    Northwest Evaluation Association To Enter State Assessment Market,” says Education Week.

    “Is Estonia the new Finland?” asks The Hechinger Report after looking at the country’s rising PISA scores.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    From the Coursera blog: “Coursera pilots a new course format.” It’s the format otherwise known as “online education.” “Starting today, we will begin piloting a few courses in which all content is available only to learners who have purchased the course, either directly or by applying for and receiving financial aid.”

    More via I Programmer on Coursera’s decision to remove old courses from its platform.

    In other Coursera news: “Atlassian sponsors computer science learners on Coursera.”

    And via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of State and massive open online course provider Coursera are partnering to launch Coursera for Refugees, a program to offer career training to displaced people around the world. The program will focus on nonprofits that help refugees, which will be able to apply for fee waivers to access the Coursera course catalog.”

    Law Schools Are Going Online to Reach New Students,” says The New York Times.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    From Course Report: “the 2016 Coding Bootcamp Market Size Study.” Among the findings: “In 2016, the sheer number of bootcamp providers has grown to 91, compared to 67 last year.” “Average tuition price of qualifying courses is $11,451, with an average program length of 12.9 weeks. This is compared with averages of $11,063 and 10.8 weeks in 2015.”

    Via Venture Beat: “Xavier Niel explains 42: the coding university without teachers, books, or tuition” (or students over age 30).

    Via The New York Times: “Corinthian Colleges, once one of the nation's largest for-profit education companies, engaged in apparently unlawful practices by paying its recruiters based on how many sales leads they converted into actual students, according to documents unsealed late last week.”

    Via Politico: “As much as one out of every four dollars in federal student loans flowing to for-profit schools offering associate’s degrees or certificates could be eligible for forgiveness because of the school’s fraud, the department [of education] estimates.”

    A report on for-profit higher ed from the AFT: “Regulating Too-Big-to-Fail Education.”

    Via the AP: “New for-profit medical schools springing up across US.”

    More on the accreditation of for-profit universities in the accreditation section below. And more on the role that for-profit universities might play in this year’s Presidential election in the poop emoji section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wyoming’s President Declares Financial Crisis.” More on UWyo’s “queen sacrifice” from Bryan Alexander.

    “A computer for every LA Unified student would cost $311 million,” says the LA School Report (which seems significantly less than the $1.3 billion it agreed to pay Apple/Pearson for iPads, but what do I know).

    The Associated Press reports that “Recovery schools for addicted teens on the rise.”

    The AAUP has censured the College of Saint Rose in New York and the University of Missouri (Columbia)“for violating standards of academic freedom and tenure.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal panel recommends termination for ACICS, an accreditor of several notorious for-profits, while also tightening the screws on the American Bar Association and other agencies.” More via the Associated Press.

    “Four small private colleges – along with one community college – have been placed on probation by the regional accreditor for the southern United States,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The schools in question: Spring Hill College, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Centenary College, Georgetown College, and Angelina College.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The federal government is set to release data reports designed to help measure the performance of accrediting agencies, with metrics such as the graduation rates, debt, earnings and loan repayment rates of students who attended the colleges the accreditors oversee.”

    Via NPR: “Trump University Is Like Other For-Profit Colleges But Without The Degree.” So, sorta like a coding bootcamp?

    More on the accreditation of a “Sports University” in the sports section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    The New York Times on concussions and suicide: “A Young Athlete’s World of Pain, and Where It Led.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Second Former Vanderbilt Athlete Is Found Guilty in 2013 Campus Rape.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Big 12 Conference’s Board of Directors on Wednesday requested ‘a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assaults’ at Baylor University.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “More than 130,000 people have now signed a petition demanding that the National Collegiate Athletic Association ban violent athletes from playing intercollegiate sports.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Two higher-education agencies in North Carolina are looking into the company calling itself Forest Trail Sports University and could nix its plans to team up with Waldorf University, a for-profit institution based in Iowa that operates mostly online.”

    From the HR Department

    Via the Providence Journal: “Three teachers have resigned from Blackstone Valley Prep after the charter school confirmed allegations that they posted hurtful messages about some of their students” into a Google Doc shared with the entire school.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “After the State College of Florida replaced a tenure-like system with three-year contracts for all new faculty members, some complained. So the board shifted to one-year contracts.”

    Via The New York Times: “Late Deal in Albany Could Allow Charter Schools to Hire More Uncertified Teachers.”

    Elsewhere in the de-professionalization of education, via NBC4: “Georgia school district hiring 450 teachers, no education degree required.”

    Via Edsurge: “Adam Bellow Becomes CEO of Breakout EDU to Spread Gamified Learning.”

    Success Academy Makes Two Hires Aimed at Growth,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “LaMae de Jongh named ‘chief scaling officer,’ and Debora Barrett will be ‘chief people officer.’” LOL job titles.

    Contests and Awards

    14 projects win 2016 Knight News Challenge on Libraries.”

    The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.5 million to “making” projects.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via San Francisco Magazine: “A Kindergarten Teacher May Be Evicted from Her Mission Apartment. Reason: ‘Using Appliances’.”

    Here’s the Chalkbeat headline: “New software aims to make teachers' jobs ‘much easier’ in Indianapolis Public Schools.” Here’s the rub: it’s an LMS.

    Via Techcrunch: “Apple launches coding camps for kids in its retail stores.”

    Google announces“Google Cloud Platform Education Grants for computer science.”

    Via The New York Times: “Students Look to Loan Alternatives to Simplify Process and Ease Burden.”

    Grit– a blog post about a trademarked grit product by Pearson, of course.

    “Can U.S. and U.K. higher ed systems scale up higher quality and cost efficient education?” asks The Hechinger Report. I’m gonna go with “no” and not just because of Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.

    An in-depth look at for profit companies selling their education products and services in Africa. “Are public private partnerships the way forward?,” the headline asks. Again – thanks Betteridge – the answer is “no.” Hell no.

    Betteridge strikes again! “Can Venture Capital Put Personalized Learning Within Reach of All Students?” asks Edsurge. (It’s so revealing how this is framed – the problem with “personalized learning” up ’til now? Not enough money from the mega-wealthy!)

    And Betteridge again! “Can Edmodo Turn Virality into Profitability?

    10 amazing ways Blockchain could be used in education.” “Amazing.”

    Elsewhere in blockchain news: “An Open Letter To the DAO and the Ethereum community.” “$80 Million Hack Shows the Dangers of Programmable Money.” “Blockchain Company’s Smart Contracts Were Dumb.” Amazingly dumb.

    More, via Inside Higher Ed, on various colleges’ OER initiatives.

    The New York Times covers its own recent education event: “Educators Discuss the Future of Higher Education.” Funny headline as most of the speakers at this annual event aren’t actually educators.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    ProQuest has acquiredAlexander Street Press.

    Elsevier has acquiredHivebench.

    Homework help site Brainly has acquiredOpenStudy.

    Educator’s Assessment Data Management System (EADMS) is merging with IO Education.

    Entstudy has raised $18 million from Greenwoods Investment, Tencent, and Yuanxi Capital. The Chinese tutoring company has raised $42.21 million total.

    YewNo has raised $10 million from Pacific Capital for its “hyperknowledge” search platform.

    GameEffective has raised $7 million from CE Ventures, Verint, 2B Angels, Shaked Ventures, and Lipman “to gamify employees’ sales and e-learning tasks.” The company has raised $10 million total.

    The language-learning marketplace iTalki has raised $3 million from the Chinese online education company Hujang.

    Zoomi has raised $2.5 million from an undisclosed list of investors. According to Edsurge, the company makes “adaptive workplace software that helps individualize corporate training.” The company has raised $8.45 million total.

    Learn-to-code startup Piper has raised $2.1 million from Princeton University, Reach Capital, 500 Startups, Founders XFund, Jaan Tallinn, and Jay Silver. The company has raised $2.15 million total and should not be confused with the fictional company from the TV show Silicon Valley, Pied Piper, which has not yet pivoted to the learn-to-code space. But you never know.

    Cogbooks has raised £1.25 million (which, thanks to the crashing of the pound following the referendum vote, is about a buck fifty) from Nesta Impact Investments, DC Thomson, and the Scottish Investment Bank. The adaptive learning company has raised $4.57 million total.

    Knowledgemotion has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from ICG Ventures.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    “Examining ethical and privacy issues surrounding learning analyticsby Tony Bates.

    Via Schools Week: “While the compulsory retention of every website visit for every person in the UK was recently debated and passed in the House of Commons in the Investigatory Powers Bill, the plans for statutory surveillance of every child’s Internet use, in schools and at home, has gone unnoticed.”

    Via the Democrat & Chronicle: “A small rural Orleans County school district says it has been a victim of a cyber attack that exposed personal information of thousands of workers and contractors.”

    Data and “Research”

    Edsurge studies the gendered pay inequality at education non-profits. The median male salary at the Clayton Christensen Institute, for example is $143,000; the media female salary is $112,300. From this article, I learned that Sal Khan earns more than $540,000 a year. JFC.

    According to research published in the Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal (as reported by Inside Higher Ed), “a student placed in remedial math has a better chance of succeeding in college by taking college-level statistical courses with additional support instead of developmental math.”

    Via Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education Blog: “Google-Gallup Survey now Disaggregated by States: Fascinating and confusing reading.”

    Bad news for brain training” by Daniel Willingham.

    Via NPR: “More Testing, Less Play: Study Finds Higher Expectations For Kindergartners.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Does Reading on Computer Screens Affect Student Learning?”

    Via Education Dive: “Study examines why students choose for-profit education.”

    Edsurge reports on the latest survey from the Tyton Partners (paid for in part by the Gates Foundation) on the usage of technology in academic advising. (No surprise: the message is that there simply isn’t enough tech.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Experiments with adaptive learning at 14 colleges and universities have found the software has no significant average effect on course completion rates, has a slight positive effect on student grades and does not immediately lead to lower costs. And after using the software for three academic terms, less than half of the instructors involved say they will continue to use adaptive courseware.”

    And yet headlines like this persist: “Adaptive Learning Holds Promise for the Future of Higher Education.” Oh. I see. “Sponsored Content.” No mention of who sponsored. Nice work, Education Dive.

    Investment firm GSV has released a report with “comprehensive data + education sector insights.” They’ve called it “a history of the future” – nice tagline. Someone should steal that.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 07/01/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Well the UK’s Brexit shitshow continues, with all sorts of machinations this past week about who’ll be the new PM. Not Brexit campaign leader Boris Johnson, apparently. Perhaps the new Prime Minister will be fellow "leave" supporter Michael Gove, who betrayed Johnson this week (or Gove’s wife did, at least). You’ll remember Gove, of course, from his role as the former education secretary and as special friend of News Corp's Joel Klein. Or perhaps you’ll remember him from this Vine:

    Or from this Vine (wonderfully captioned, I might add):

    Horrific. Truly.

    Speaking of horrors: “The One Group Not Freaking Out About Brexit: VCs.” So that speaks volumes. Also speaking volumes, the publications that framed the educational fallout from last week’s referendum on EU membership in terms of how it might possiblyhurtthe business of British ed-tech. Priorities. Inside Higher Ed looks at the potential declines in enrollment in British universities. Tony Bates looks at“Brexit and online learning in Europe.” Me, I cannot stop looking at that hand-clapping Vine.

    The US Department of Education released its “#GoOpenDistrict Launch Packet,” encouraging schools to use OER. As Stephen Downes comments, “I find it interesting that they refer throughout to ‘openly licensed educational materials’ rather than ‘open educational resources’ – I wonder what the reasoning was behind that.” Rebrand. Realign. Rewrite history. The usual, I’d wager.

    From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary King Calls for Charter Schools to Lead on Rethinking Student Discipline.” More from the Washington Post.

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Aiming to boost the growth of charter schools in cities nationwide, the Walton Family Foundation plans to announce a $250 million initiative Tuesday to help charters build and expand their sites.”

    Kansas lawmakers, trying to head off a court shutdown of the state’s public schools, have increased aid to poor districts by $38 million,” NPR reports.

    Via Education Week: “House Members Introduce Bill to Overhaul Career and Technical Education.” (Related, via the US News & World Report: “Women Losing Out on Career and Technical Education.”)

    Via Politico: “The Education Department announced Thursday that Navient– the loan servicing giant that’s a frequent target of the political left – is one of three finalists to develop the first part of the Obama administration’s planned overhaul of how it collects federal student loans.” Nothing to see here…

    Gov. Christie’s Toxic School Plan” by The New York Times’ Editorial Board.

    Chancellor Kaya Henderson Says She’s Leaving D.C. Public Schools,” WAMU reports on the surprise news.

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Hillary Clinton unveiled her tech platform this week. Excuse me. Her “innovation agenda.” She promises that every kid will learn to code (of course) by having the private sector train CS teachers. She wants federal financial aid for coding bootcamps and nanodegrees. Her plan also involved a talking point about diversifying the tech workforce, but then she went ahead and announced this doozy: a student loan deferment program for startup founders. Alexander Holt offers a pretty good argument as to why this is a “giveaway to Silicon Valley.” (The whole platform sounds like that, to be honest.) “Is Student-Loan Debt Really Holding Would-Be Entrepreneurs Back?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. More on Clinton’s plans via Edweek’s Market Brief, Inside Higher Ed, and The New York Times.

    Fact checking“Trump campaign’s claim that State Department gave $55.2 million to Laureate Education after hiring Bill Clinton.”

    We know about Trump University. But apparently there was also the Trump Institute. According to The New York Times, “Trump Institute Offered Get-Rich Schemes With Plagiarized Lessons.”

    Via The 74: “Trump Towers Over Education: How His Candidacy Is Already Affecting Federal Policy.”

    Education in the Courts

    The US Supreme Court has refused to re-open the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case (which involves public sector union dues), which it deadlocked over earlier this year.

    Via ABC News: “ A defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine over the magazine’s debunked article about a University of Virginia gang rape was tossed out by a judge Tuesday. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan said the lawsuit brought by three former fraternity members cited comments that were offered as speculation and hypothesis rather than fact.”

    Via The New York Times: “Accused in Two Rapes, Former Student at Indiana University Avoids Prison With Plea Deal.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The New York Times: “Tutors See Stereotypes and Gender Bias in SAT. Testers See None of the Above.”

    ACT Will Change Scoring Scale for Writing Test,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    “What the PISA Results Really Say About Pure and Applied Math” by Dan Meyer.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    From the edX blog: “How to be a Better Learner: Determine Your Learning Style.” There’s an infographic (but perhaps no cognitive scientist on staff, eh).

    Robots won’t replace teachers because they can’t inspire us.” That’s the headline describing a conversation between Recode and Coursera’s Daphne Koller.

    Elsewhere in MOOC research… From Campus Technology: “Grouping MOOC Students by Communication Mode Doesn’t Help Completion.” Try learning styles, maybe.

    What We Learned From Talking with 100 MOOC Students” by Justin Reich (and George Veletsianos and Laura Pasquini).

    Via Inverse: “Udemy’s Exodus, Amazon’s Gain. Mercurial rules are causing instructors to jump ship.”

    More on MOOC (and related) research in the research section below.

    Coding Bootcamps and the Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”

    Via Politico: “Bid to buy for-profit college by former Obama insiders raises questions.” (The for-profit in question: the University of Phoenix.)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The fourth and final ‘Borrower Defense Progress Report’ was released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education. It cites 26,603 claims for debt relief, of which 87 percent were from former students at the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc., according to the agency. As of June 24, the report says, the department had approved more than 11,000 claims for student-debt relief, for a total of more than $170 million.”

    Meanwhile on Campus

    “After 25 Years, What’s Next For Charter Schools?” asks NPR’s Claudio Sanchez.

    NPR’s Anya Kamenetz has an in-depth look at the technology and behavior management practices at the Rocketship chain of charter schools: “High Test Scores At A Nationally Lauded Charter Network, But At What Cost?” Hours in front of the computer, classes of 50 to 70 students, urinary tract infections, and “Zone Zero,” where total silence is enforced. The students are largely low income, Latinos, and these practices wouldn’t be acceptable at schools populated by upper middle class white kids Also unacceptable, apparently: reporting critically about Rocketship, as severalpublications– funded by the same folks who fund Rocketship. Funny how that works – lambasted Kamenetz for her story. The 74 just went ahead and published a response from the CEO of Rocketship. Because that’s ethical and responsible journalism.

    Also via NPR: “From YouTube Pioneer Sal Khan, A School With Real Classrooms.”

    Via The New York Times: “A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Michael Katze, famous for his studies of Ebola and the flu, ran a lab at the University of Washington where intoxication and sexual harassment went unchecked, and where he misused public resources for personal gain.”

    “The University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center will no longer use live animals to train medical students,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Its the last American university to do so, and it will now use simulations instead.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon’s free community college program begins this fall, but several two-year-college leaders in the state say the grant program is underfunded and too exclusive.”

    I’m not sure if you’re watching the sex crime scandal at the Oakland Police Departmentunfold. It involves officer suicide, cover-ups, resignations (and much more), and this week there were revelations that the teenage victim at the center of much of this was a former student at a high school to which several of the police officers involved were assigned. The East Bay Express has the story.

    Accreditation and Certification

    “Long-Struggling Dowling College Is Told It Will Lose Accreditation,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Excelsior College and publisher Cengage Learning on Tuesday said they would partner to create self-paced online degree programs to give students an alternative pathway to college credit.”

    “U.S. Conference of Mayors Resolves to Support Digital Badging,” says Edsurge.

    There’s some more research on badges and alternative credentials in the research section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Baruch College of the City University of New York lacked institutional control over its athletics program when two staff members gave 30 athletes impermissible student aid and benefits over five years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said in a news release on Thursday.” That aid totaled $255,097.

    From the HR Department

    “Civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay Mckesson will return to his old stamping grounds at city school headquarters to lead the district’s office of human capital,” The Baltimore Sun reports.

    Edsurge reports that Esther Wojcicki is joining the startup Planet3.

    The 2013 “Superintendent of the Year” Mark Edwards will joinDiscovery Education. Steve Dembo recently announced that he’s leaving the company after 10+ years.

    Updates from ISTE

    “Heard, Overheard and Announced at ISTE 2016by Edsurge (which mislabels ISTE as the biggest ed-tech conference in the world).

    ISTE will start charging money to license its technology standards, the NETS, which it first released back in 1998.

    Commerce Dept. Uses ISTE to Tout Opportunities for U.S. Ed-Tech Providers Abroad” by Education Week.

    Lots of press releases were issued this week to coincide with the ISTE conference in Denver – Amazon’s new OER platform, for example. I’ve included most of those in the upgrades and downgrades section below.

    Microsoft must’ve paid the big bucks to have this announced at the opening session: “ISTE and Microsoft collaborate to provide new school planning and professional learning resources.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Who got rich off the student debt crisis.” Spoiler alert: loan companies like Sallie Mae, companies that do loan collection for the Department of Education, the Department of Education, private equity funds, for-profit universities.

    Amazon Unveils Online Education Service for Teachers,” The New York Times writes about the online retailer’s forays into “OER.” And just one day later: “Amazon Inspire Removes Some Content Over Copyright Issues,” Natasha Singer reports. The content in question, featured in screenshots that Amazon sent journalists as part of the press package, were lifted from rival site TeachersPayTeachers. More on Amazon Inspire from the press release and from Edsurge.

    As Phil Hill notes, Amazon is already a powerful player in the ed-tech market, providing the “cloud” platform for many major ed-tech companies.

    Elsewhere in Amazon news, The New York Times reports the company has reached a deal whereby Amazon Prime will be the exclusive streaming service for most of PBS‘s kids’ TV shows.

    One company not using Amazon to run its computing infrastructure: Blackboard. It announced this week it has entered a “strategic relationship” with IBM, which will run its data centers and send out joint press releases making big claims about what IBM Watson can do for education.

    Tekserve, Precursor to the Apple Store, to Close After 29 Years.”

    “For-Profit Coalition Seeks to Bolster the Flipped-Classroom Approach,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on what appears to be a new company founded by BAM Radio’s Errol St. Clair Smith. Fees to join the Flipped Learning Global Initiative are $5000/year.

    Googlereleased a handful of updates timed with ISTE, including Google Cast for Education which I heard someone say was the product most enthusiastically received by educators at the conference. A screen sharing app. Good grief, raise your standards, people. Other updates: an Expeditions app, quizzes in Google Forms, a partnership with TES, a physical coding project.

    Not sure if this is new or just new-to-me, but the learn-to-code startup Codecademy now has a paid “Pro” option that, for $19.99/month gives you a “personalized learning plan.”

    The Internet of Things Is Here,” according to market research published by Educause, at least.

    Elsewhere in press releases disguised as news articles: “XYZprinting‘s new 3D printer is designed for the classroom,“ says Techcrunch. ”Bose wants your kids to build their own Bluetooth speakers,“ says Techcrunch. ” introduces Frozen and Star Wars-themed courses,“ says Techcrunch. ”Happy Atoms launches to teach kids about the wonders of molecules,“ says Techcrunch. ”Producers of ’Glassboards’ Aim to Replace Whiteboards in K–12 Schools,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

    “An Evernote Free Basic Account is Now Basically Useless,” Gizmodo writes. Honestly, even a paid Evernote account seems iffy these days. (And the company makes it really challenging to get your content out in a usable format too. Maybe this time folks will learn their lesson. LOL.)

    XO Infinity Modular Laptop Goes Up For Pre-Order Minus Its Modular Design,” The Digital Reader’s Nate Hoffelder reports.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Blackboard– or an affiliate of Blackboard recently formed by its parent company, Providence Equity Partners – has acquiredHigher One for $260 million, a move that will allow Blackboard to handle more financial services for schools. More via the Washington Business Journal.

    Barnes & Noble Education has acquiredPromoversity, which offers customized merchandize and is one of the most unpleasant company names I’ve come across in a while.

    Workday has acquiredZaption.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Common Sense Media has launched a “Privacy Policy Browser,” that as the name suggests looks at the policies of several popular ed-tech apps. More via Edsurge.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Big Data Comes to College, Officials Wrestle to Set New Ethical Norms.”

    Data and “Research”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Nine percent of community-college students, or nearly one million people, attend institutions that don’t participate in the federal student-loan program, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Institute for College Access and Success.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students and their families are receiving scholarships and grants to cover more of the price of college, according to the latest installment of an annual survey conducted by Sallie Mae, the student lender.” (Where “more” is not “most.” Most is still loans. Thanks, Sallie Mae.)

    Via NPR: “1 In 10 Cal State Students Is Homeless, Study Finds.”

    According to research presented at the American Society for Engineering Education, “Most students will make an earnest attempt to answer homework questions without peeking at the answer, even if cheating is just a click away, a new study found.”

    EdWeek’s Market Brief has a write-up of a recent study by the Software & Information Industry Association about why teachers take online PD courses. This biggest reasons: “how to use digital devices, how to use the educational software that goes on them, or to find out more about classroom behavior or management.”

    Via Education Week: “Alternative-certification programs are bringing in scores more teachers of color, male teachers, and teachers who attended selective colleges than traditional programs. But teachers who enter the profession through such programs also appear to leave it at higher rates – and that gap has been growing since 1999, a provocative new study concludes.”

    The University Professional and Continuing Education Association put out this press release: “Pioneering Study Reveals More Than 90 Percent of Colleges and Universities Embrace Alternative Credentials. Millennials prefer badging and certificates to traditional degrees, according to researchers from UPCEA, Penn State and Pearson.” Bullshit. But oh look, Pearson – which wants you to buy its proprietary badge system, Acclaim.

    CB Insights looks at “Quantifying Media Attention to Predict Technology Trends” and says “ruh roh” about MOOCs.

    “Could Smart Transactional Models Help Power Personalized Learning?” asks KnowledgeWorks, in a research brief touting the blockchain.

    “Ka’ching,” says Edsurge. “US Edtech Brings in $225M in May.” (I’ll be posting my calculations for ed-tech funding for June tomorrow-ish.)

    The Bipolar Literature on Technology in U.S. Schools” by Larry Cuban.


    Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team – and one of the greatest coaches in history – died this week, five years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

    The futurist Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock (and popularizer of the "schools are factories" myth) passed away this week.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    Virtual reality is, once again, being heralded as a technology poised to transform education. I say “once again” because virtual reality has long been associated with such promises. VR appeared in some of the earliest Horizon Reports for example, with the 2007 report positing that virtual worlds would be adopted by higher ed institutions within two to three years’ time; funnily enough, the 2016 report offers the same outlook: we’re still two to three years out from widespread adoption of VR.

    The history of VR goes back much farther than this – the phrase “virtual reality” was coined in 1987 by Jaron Lanier, but attempts to create the illusion of being somewhere else – through art and/or technology – date back farther still.

    But this time it’s different.” That’s the common response from some quarters to my (repeated) assertion that there’s a substantial history to education technologies – to both the technologies themselves and to the educational purposes for which they’re designed or utilized – that is consistently ignored.

    This much is true: augmented reality and virtual reality startups have seen record-setting levels of venture capital in recent years predicated on advancements in the tech (although much of that investment has gone to just a handful of companies, such as Magic Leap). In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR, Google released its Cardboard viewer, and Playstation announced it was working on a VR gaming headset – these have all been interpreted in turn as signs that virtual reality will soon be mainstream.

    “Soon.” As the New Media Consortium’s annual reports should serve to remind us, VR has always been “on the horizon.”

    (The Sword of Damocles, built in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland)

    Today’s ed-tech entrepreneurs are wont to claim that they’ll be the “first” to bring virtual reality to schools, and that today’s ed-tech journalists rarely fact-check or dispute these statements underscores how little either seems to know or care about ed-tech history. But the problem, as some long-time VR developers insist, isn’t simply that these folks don’t know much about technology’s past: it’s that they don’t know their research (also a huge problem); and quite arguably, they seem unfamiliar with any of the debates about design or definitions. I mean, what is virtual reality?

    Educational Stereoscopy

    There’s a hint as to an answer to that question – or at least to the question “what isn’t virtual reality?” – in this Wired headline from late last year: “Stop Calling Google Cardboard’s 360-Degree Videos ‘VR’.” But in many ways, I fear, the answer (and the definition) might not matter. If the product label says it’s VR, then it’s VR; if the pundits and press say it’s innovation, then it’s innovation; if they say it’s disruption, then it’s disruption.

    Even with new, consumer-oriented VR devices coming (soon! right?) to market, the bar for “what counts” as virtual reality might be getting lower, particularly for schools – who, in fairness, would be unlikely to afford the high-end machinery VR requires, something that was also a stumbling block a decade ago when the promises of “virtual worlds” in education mostly involved Second Life. Nowadays the adjective “virtual” is applied to all sorts of digital media, games, and simulations with such frequency that the phrase “virtual reality” might have lost almost all meaning or specificity.

    Virtual reality, at least in its “purest” or strictest sense, does still require some very expensive and cumbersome hardware in order to create something more than an “immersive” viewing experience. Headsets. Gloves. Sensors. Projectors. Processors. To truly provide a virtual reality, the technology must achieve “sensory immersion in a virtual environment, including a sense of presence,” game developer and VR scholar Brenda Laurel recently argued, listing a series of requisite characteristics almost entirely absent from the multimedia products marketed to schools as VR.

    The focus of many these products remains a visual learning experience, and as such, the slideshows and videos peddled by today’s ed-tech companies offer about as much “VR” as the Victorian stereoscope. (The technique of creating an illusion of three-dimensionality is almost identical: a combination of lenses and imagery that trick the brain into interpreting depth.)

    But just as striking as the parallel between the old and new stereoscopy technology is the similarity of their marketing messages: why should schools adopt this technology? The rationale for these latest “View-Masters” is almost unchanged from that offered by new media proponents almost a century ago.

    (Image credits: Educational Screen, 1924)

    “Learn about other cultures.” “Visit faraway lands without leaving the classroom.” “Guided tours of places school buses cannot go.” “Modern pedagogical methods require modern media.” “Pictures speak a universal language.” “This is science.”

    Google has been among the loudest lately at trumpeting the potential for “virtual field trips” with its Expeditions product. But as I’ve argued previously, it’s not remotely clear that the positive benefits of going on actual field trips extend to the experience of watching a 360 degree video via a device strapped to your face. (Okay okay, these new VR products certainly sound a lot less exciting when I describe them that way.) We don’t believe that field trips are the equivalent of watching educational films in class, do we? So why is VR any different?

    According to the marketing hype– offered with very little recognition of any media research or media history – VR will be a new and unique “empathy machine.” A century after Thomas Edison’s famous assertion that “books will soon be obsolete in schools” thanks to the wonders of film, watching movies in class is re-presented as progressive pedagogy, as technological innovation.

    Educational Simulations

    There’s a different thread that one can trace to tell the history of VR in education – not merely watching educational films, in other words – and that’s the history of training simulations, which, if it includes modern war games, dates back at least to the early 19th century. (The military’s contributions to education technology are often overlooked, in a quest perhaps to position ed-tech as pedagogically, if not politically progressive. Or perhaps, again, it’s simply that folks don’t give a damn about history.)

    The pedagogical structure and implications of simulations are quite different than those of “virtual field trips.” Rather than emphasizing learn-by-seeing, that is, educational simulations tout learn-by-doing. Or ideally, they do – a recent list of “The Top 10 Companies Working on Education in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality” described this gem: “Lecture VR is a VR app … which simulates a lecture hall in virtual reality.” (There are echoes of Second Life here, no doubt, when universities carefully reconstructed their campuses and classrooms in a virtual setting.)

    (Image credits: Virtual Reality Society, Teach Creativity, Technology to Enhance Learning)

    Many ed-tech products like to tout their constructivist principles, but sometimes these reduce “learn-by-doing” to “learn-by-clicking.” Many simulations are just that: click on the scalpel in the frog dissection simulation app; touch the screen in the surgery simulation app; click on the airplane controls in the flight simulation app.

    Virtual simulations promise that learning experiences can be undertaken more safely (and sometimes more cost-effectively). That’s certainly the appeal of virtual frog dissection, virtual surgery, virtual flight training, and the like.

    One of the earliest flight simulators – and yes, this predates the Microsoft software by over fifty years, but postdates the Wright Brothers by only about twenty – was developed by Edwin Link. He received the patent for his device in 1931, a machine that replicated the cockpit and its instruments. The trainer would pitch and roll and dive and climb, powered by a motor and organ bellows. (Link’s family owned an organ factory.)

    Although Link’s first customers were amusement parks – and you can see on the patent title that the machine was called a “Combination training device for student aviators and entertainment apparatus” – the military bought six in June of 1934, following a series of plane crashes earlier that year immediately following the US Army Air Corps’ takeover of US Air Mail service. These accidents served to underscore the lack of pilots’ lack of training, particularly under night-time or inclement weather conditions.

    By the end of World War II, some 500,000 pilots had used the “Link Trainer,” and flight simulators have since become an integral part of pilot (and subsequently, astronaut) training.

    (Image credits)

    There’s a materiality, by design, to the flight simulator. Obviously, it’s meant to closely replicate the experience of flying an airplane. In the safety of training facility, you can get a “feel” for the controls; you can get a “feel” for how to react to turbulence. That “feel” is physical; it isn’t just visual and it isn’t virtual. It isn’t about having “empathy” for a pilot or the plane. The simulation provides an embodied experience as a pilot.

    The body matters to learning.

    VR, Mind, and Body-less-ness

    (Image credits)

    Despite the promise of "immersion" in another reality, many of today’s VR products aimed at schools (often invoking specious scientific claims as the “case study” above demonstrates) don’t seem to think much about education and embodiment – that is, the materiality of our lived and learning experiences – despite, again from the example above, of an invocation of constructionism. (Actually, I’m pretty sure the company above meant “constructivism” here, since “constructionism” builds upon the learn-by-doing of constructivism by stressing the importance of the tangible not just the abstract.)

    I’m reminded here of N. Katherine Hayles’ work in How We Became Posthuman:

    one could argue that the erasure of embodiment is a feature common to both the liberal humanist subject and the cybernetic posthuman. Identified with the rational mind, the liberal subject possessed a body but was not usually represented as being a body. Only because the body is not identified with the self is it possible to claim for the liberal subject its notorious universality, a claim that depends on erasing markers of bodily difference, including sex, race, and ethnicity.

    This erasure of bodies and identities and difference runs throughout today’s education technologies (built, as they still overwhelmingly are, by white men). Even without a VR headset, there’s a disembodied-ness with most digital learning. The imagined student using these new technologies is a “roaming autodidact,” as Tressie McMillan Cottom has argued.

    And the imagined subject matter?

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  • 07/08/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Well, this one was of the longest short weeks I can remember…

    Education Politics

    From the Department of Education’s Press Office: “Fact Sheet: Education Department Releases Proposed Regulations to Encourage Better and Fairer Tests, Reduce Burden of Testing.”

    Via ProPublica: “New Jersey‘s Student Loan Program is ’State-Sanctioned Loan-Sharking’.”

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Hillary Clintonreleased an update to her plans for higher education and college affordability, with a proposal for free, in-state public college tuition for those with incomes up to $125,000 – a move that brings her campaign in closer alignment to those policies proposed by rival candidate Bernie Sanders. She also proposed a three month moratorium on federal student loan payments.

    Here’s the draft of the Democratic Party Platform, which includes free community college as a plank.

    “Did Clinton University Break The Same Law As Trump U?” asks The Daily Beast.

    Education in the Courts

    Via “A Lee County jury today convicted Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard on 12 felony charges in his ethics case, removing Hubbard from office. Hubbard, 54, was convicted after a jury spent seven hours deliberating whether he used his public position for personal gain.” The charges include receiving money from the ed-tech company Edgenuity.

    Via the Texas Tribune: “Three University of Texas at Austin professors sued their university and the state on Wednesday, claiming Texas’ new campus carry law is forcing the school to impose ‘overly-solicitous, dangerously-experimental gun policies’ that violate the First and Second Amendments.”

    Kansas State University’s policy not to investigate accusations of rape in off-campus fraternity houses is ‘incorrect,’ according to federal government statements filed in court in support of two female students at the university,” The New York Times reports. These students filed federal lawsuits earlier this year, contending the university violated Title IX.

    Via Eweek: “Home Computers Connected to the Internet Aren’t Private, Court Rules.”

    “Why I Am Suing the Government” by Christian Sandvig (on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).

    From court filings, reported by The Washington Post: “In her own words: Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely on experience with ‘Jackie’.”

    “A Portland Public Schools board member has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the district, alleging racial discrimination,” The Oregonian reports.

    There’s more on legal cases in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    News on testing in the politics section above.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    ‘Top universities to offer full degrees online in five years’” says the BBC, citing a prediction made by Coursera’s Daphne Koller.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “For Students Taking Online Courses, a Completion Paradox.”

    Research from EuroDL: “Massive Open Online Courses and Economic Sustainability.”

    Institut Mines-TélécomjoinsedX.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    News on for-profits in the accreditation section below. A study on for-profits and adjunct labor in the research section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    “Public Colleges Chase Out-of-State Students, and Tuition,” says The New York Times.

    Career centers are providing more access to some companies than others (for a fee), a move that has career counselors concerned institutions are selling students to the highest bidder,” Inside Higher Ed reports. (I should add: career matching startups are becoming quite popular investment targets. A trend, perhaps, to watch.)

    Libraries remain relevant, and The New York Times is on it.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The U. of California’s Open-Access Promise Hits a Snag: The Faculty.”

    Michigan State University has dropped its general ed requirement that students take college-level algebra.

    Buzzfeed continues its reporting on sexual harassment on college campuses, this time with a story on astrophysics professor Christian Ott: “Caltech Professor Who Harassed Students Will Not Return To Campus For Another Year.”

    “Chinese investors provided $3 million in startup money for Thunderbird Preparatory Academy, a Cornelius charter school that’s fighting for survival,” reports the Charlotte Observer.

    Accreditation and Certification

    The Higher Learning Commission announced that it would delay any action on the proposed sale of the Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix.

    Tressie McMillan Cottom speaks with Marketplace about the connections between welfare reform, credentialing, and for-profit higher ed.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Tennessean: “The University of Tennessee-Knoxville has reached a settlement in a lawsuit about sexual assaults involving student-athletes, ending a dispute that pitted eight young women against the $126 million football program. UT will pay the plaintiffs $2.48 million, a sum that also includes fees for their attorneys.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Many universities provide lists of friendly lawyers to athletes accused of sexual assault and other crimes but don’t provide the same help to victims or nonathletes with legal troubles. U of Tennessee settlement raises questions about the practice, which the NCAA permits.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Two staff members at Georgia Southern University breached ethical-conduct rules by providing forbidden academic assistance to three athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Thursday, citing a decision by its Division I Committee on Infractions.”

    From the HR Department

    Via Fortune: “Android Co-Founder To Lead Google’s New Education Project.” In recent years, Rich Miner has been an investor in Google’s venture capital wing, Google Ventures. No word on what this “new education project” might be. By the sounds of this report, Miner isn’t sure yet either.

    “Major faculty and staff cuts at Plymouth State Universityby Bryan Alexander.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via AV Club: “Apple gets patent to disable cell cameras at concerts, and it’s super evil.” Just at concerts. Suuuure.

    Pearson Collaborates With Google to Develop Virtual Reality Learning Experiences for Students.”

    Via The Nation: “Teach for America Has Gone Global, and Its Board Has Strange Ideas About What Poor Kids Need.”

    “Could AI replace teachers? 10 ways it could?” by Donald Clark.

    Amazon Inspire, Open Educational Resources, and Copywrong” by Bill Fitzgerald.

    The non-profit Technology for Education Consortium is partnering with an ed-tech company Lea(R)n“to use the latter company’s technology platform to collect and analyze data around ed-tech purchasing, including the RFPs and contract terms that go with the purchases,” according to EdWeek’s Market Brief.

    3 Lessons Chipotle Can Teach EdTech” is an actual headline.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)


    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Via Chalkbeat: “A Colorado mom asked for records about her son. The school district billed her $567.” Yay, FERPA.

    From the Berkman Klein Center: “Privacy and Student Data– An Overview of Federal Laws Impacting Student Information Collected Through Networked Technologies.”

    Safety, Risk, and Informed Decisions” – Common Sense Media’s Bill Fitzgerald writes about how to evaluate the privacy of ed-tech software (and how to evaluate Common Sense Media’s privacy evaluations).

    Data and “Research”

    Via the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: “Over the past three decades, state and local expenditures on prisons and jails have increased more than three times as fast as spending on elementary and secondary education, according to a new brief released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education.”

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Get Schooled blog reports that “A new Duke University study suggests problems paying attention in school in early childhood can foreshadow academic challenges later, including graduating from high school. Such students are 40 percent less likely to graduate, according to the study.”

    EduKwest has released its latest “EdTech Market Brief India,” detailing continued growth, as the title suggests, of the ed-tech market in India.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a Florida State University study: “Passing rates in gateway courses have dropped across Florida’s 28 open-access colleges as more students skip remediation and head straight to college-level classes. But because a law that took effect in 2014 gives students that option, the actual number of students passing entry-level college courses has increased.”

    Montana’s Online Credit Recovery Program Scrutinized by Researchers,” Education Week reports.

    Daniel Willingham writes about what he sees as an “Important new study of homework.”

    “Dean Dad” Matt Reed writes about research that suggests for-profits led to the rise of adjunct labor.

    Via The Atlantic: “Taking More Courses May Help Solve the College Debt Crisis.” This draws on research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University on students in Tennessee.

    Via Education Week: “Teachers in High-Poverty Schools Less Confident in Ed-Tech Skills, Survey Finds.”

    The Myth of the English Major Barista” by Robert Matz.

    “Half of Associate Degree Holders Are Underemployed,” according to Payscale.

    Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce released its latest study about jobs, and among the headlines gleaned from it, this one by Bloomberg: “Americans With More Education Have Taken Almost Every Job Created in the Recovery.” Like, 99%.

    Via NPR: “Babies Of Color Are Now The Majority, Census Says.”

    Via Science Alert: “A bug in fMRI software could invalidate 15 years of brain research.” But keep on using those colorful images in your slides to argue why lectures are bad.


    Three students from American universities were among the 22 victims of terrorists last week in Bangladesh.

    RIP to Philando Castile, age 32, who was shot on Wednesday by a police officer. I try to avoid the viral videos of Black men being murdered, but I clicked on the Facebook feed of his girlfriend, broadcasting live from the front seat of the car. Her composure and her code-switching was remarkable, even more so considering their four year old daughter was in the back seat. Castile was the cafeteria supervisor at J. J. Hill Montessori, and the school community grieves for someone they loved and who by all accounts loved each child he served.

    I’ll include some resources and readings and responses in HEWN (the Hack Education Weekly Newsletter) that I’ll send out tomorrow. But for now, stay safe out there.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    This is the transcript of the talk I gave today at the Digital Pedagogy Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island. You can find the slides here. Image and data credits are listed at the bottom of this post.

    Last summer, when I gave a keynote at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Summer Institute in Madison, Wisconsin, I talked about “teaching machines and Turing machines,” tracing some of the origins of artificial intelligence and scrutinizing the work that those of us in education – students, teachers, administrators – are increasing asking software and hardware to do.

    I’ve long been interested in the push for automation and AI in education – certainly, talk of “robots coming for our jobs” is not new, and predictions by technologists about the impending arrival of artificial intelligence are now sixty some odd years old – that is, for decades, we’ve heard people tell us that we’re just a decade or so away from AI being able to do any job a human can. Let me make sure I’m clear here – I’m interested in the “push,” in the stories we tell about machines more so than the technology underpinning the machines themselves.

    As I was in Wisconsin last summer, I wanted to speak directly to issues surrounding AI, teaching machines, and threats to labor, particularly as the state was in the middle (is in the middle) of a political battle over the future of public workers’ rights and the future of tenure at its public universities. But I also wanted to tease out, more generally, what we mean by the labor of teaching and learning, how the former in particular is gendered, how the labor practices in education are not simply a matter of the rational distribution or accumulation of facts, and how and why (and if) our meanings and values surrounding teaching and learning labor will shape the ways in which education is automated. If education is automated. Whose education is automated.

    Consider this a companion talk.

    As the title suggests, I want to talk today not about “teaching machines” or “Turing machines” but about “memory machines.” These machines are all kin, of course. They’re part of our cultural imaginary as much as they are about a technological reality that we face today. These machines are all intertwined with how we imagine the future of intelligence and knowledge, along with the future of the institutions traditionally responsible for these things – namely schools, universities, libraries, museums.

    There are powerful narratives being told about the future that insist we are at a moment of extraordinary technological change. That change, according to these tales, is happening faster than ever before. It is creating an unprecedented explosion in the production of information. New information technologies, so we’re told, must therefore change how we learn – change what we need to know, how we know, how we create knowledge. Because of the pace of change and the scale of change and the locus of change – again, so we’re told – our institutions, our public institutions can no longer keep up. These institutions will soon be outmoded, irrelevant. So we’re told.

    Powerful narratives, like I said. But not necessarily true. And even if partially true, we are not required to respond the way those in power or in the technology industry would like.

    As Neil Postman and others have cautioned us, technologies tend to become mythic – unassailable, God-given, natural, irrefutable, absolute. And as they do so, we hand over a certain level of control – to the technologies themselves, sure, but just as importantly to the industries and the ideologies behind them. Take, for example, the founding editor of the technology trade magazine Wired, Kevin Kelly. His 2010 book was called What Technology Wants, as though technology is a living being with desires and drives; the title of his 2016 book, The Inevitable. We humans, in this framework, have no agency, no choice. The future – a certain flavor of technological future – is pre-ordained.

    So is the pace of technological change accelerating? Is society adopting technologies faster than it’s ever done before? Perhaps it feels like it. It certainly makes for a good headline, a good stump speech, a good keynote, a good marketing claim. (A good myth. A dominant ideology.) But the claim falls apart under scrutiny.

    This graph comes from an article in the online publication Vox that includes a couple of those darling made-to-go-viral videos of young children using “old” technology like rotary phones and portable cassette players – highly clickable, highly sharable stuff. The visual argument in the graph: the number of years it takes for one quarter of the US population to adopt a new technology has been shrinking with each new innovation.

    But the data is flawed. Some of the dates given for these inventions are questionable at best, if not outright inaccurate. If nothing else, it’s not so easy to pinpoint the exact moment, the exact year when a new technology came into being. There often are competing claims as to who invented a technology and when, for example, and there are early prototypes that may or may not “count.” James Clerk Maxwell did publish A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in 1873. Alexander Graham Bell made his famous telephone call to his assistant in 1876. Guglielmo Marconi did file his patent for radio in 1897. John Logie Baird demonstrated a working television system in 1926. The MITS Altair 8800, an early personal computer that came as a kit you had to assemble, was released in 1975. Martin Cooper, a Motorola exec, made the first mobile telephone call in 1973, not 1983. And the Internet? The first ARPANET link was established between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in 1969. The Internet was not invented in 1991.

    So we can reorganize the bar graph. But it’s still got problems.

    The Internet did become more privatized, more commercialized around that date – 1991 – and thanks to companies like AOL, a version of it became more accessible to more people. But if you’re looking at when technologies became accessible to people, you can’t use 1873 as your date for electricity, you can’t use 1876 as your year for the telephone, and you can’t use 1926 as your year for the television. It took years for the infrastructure of electricity and telephony to be built, for access to become widespread; and subsequent technologies, let’s remember, have simply piggy-backed on these existing networks. Our Internet service providers today are likely telephone and TV companies.

    Economic historians who are interested in these sorts of comparisons of technologies and their effects typically set the threshold at 50 percent – that is, how long does it take after a technology is commercialized (not simply “invented”) for half the population to adopt it. This way, you’re not only looking at the economic behaviors of the wealthy, the early-adopters, the city-dwellers, and so on (but to be clear, you are still looking at a particular demographic – the privileged half.)

    How many years do you think it’ll be before half of US households (or Canadian ones) have a smart watch? A drone? A 3D printer? Virtual reality goggles? A self-driving car? Will they? Will it be fewer years than 9? I mean, it would have to be if, indeed, “technology” is speeding up and we are adopting new technologies faster than ever before.

    Some of us might adopt technology products quickly, to be sure. Some of us might eagerly buy every new Apple gadget that’s released. But we can’t claim that the pace of technological change is speeding up just because we personally go out and buy a new iPhone every time Apple tells us the old model is obsolete.

    Some economic historians like Robert J. Gordon actually contend that we’re not in a period of great technological innovation at all; instead, we find ourselves in a period of technological stagnation. The changes brought about by the development of information technologies in the last 40 years or so pale in comparison, Gordon argues (and this is from his recent book The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US Standard of Living Since the Civil War), to those “great inventions” that powered massive economic growth and tremendous social change in the period from 1870 to 1970 – namely electricity, sanitation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the internal combustion engine, and mass communication.

    We are certainly obsessed with “innovation” – there’s this rather nebulously defined yet insistent demand that we all somehow do more of it and soon.

    Certainly, we are surrounded by lots of new consumer technology products today that beckon to us to buy buy buy the latest thing. But I think it’s crucial, particularly in education, that we do not confuse consumption with innovation. Buying hardware and buying software does not make you or your students or your institutions forward-thinking. We do not have to buy new stuff faster than we’ve ever bought new stuff before in order to be “future ready.” (That’s the name of the US Department of Education initiative, incidentally, that has school districts promise to “buy new stuff.”)

    We can think about the changes that must happen to our educational institutions not because technology compels us but because we want to make these institutions more accessible, more equitable, more just. We should question this myth of the speed of technological change and adoption – again, by “myth” I don’t mean “lie”; I mean “story that is unassailably true.” – if it’s going to work us into a frenzy of bad decision-making. Into injustice. Inequality.

    We have time – when it comes to technological change – to be thoughtful. (We might have less time when it comes to climate change or to political pressures – these challenges operate on their own, distinct time tables.) I’m not calling for complacency, to be clear. Quite the contrary. I’m calling for critical thinking.

    We should question too the myth that this is an unprecedented moment in human history because of the changes brought about by information and consumer technologies. This is not the first or only time period in which we’ve experienced “information overload.” This is not the first time we have struggled with “too much information.” The capacity of humans’ biological memory has always lagged behind the amount of information humans have created. Always. So it’s not quite right to say that our current (over)abundance of information began with computers or was caused by the Internet.

    Often, the argument that there’s “too much information” involves pointing to the vast amounts of data that is created thanks to computers. Here’s IBM’s marketing pitch, for example:

    Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

    IBM is, of course, selling its information management services here. They’re selling data storage – “big data” storage. Elsewhere they’re heavily marketing their artificial intelligence product, IBM Watson, which is also reliant on “big data” mining.

    Again, these numbers demand some scrutiny. Marketing figures are not indisputable facts. Just because you read it on the Internet, doesn’t make it true. It’s not really clear how we should count all this data. Does it still count if it gets deleted? Do we count it if it’s unused or unexamined or if it’s metadata or solely machine-readable? Should we count it only if it’s human-readable? Do we only count information now only if it’s stored in bits and bytes?

    Now, I’m not arguing that there isn’t more data or “big data.” What I want us to keep in mind is that humans throughout history have felt overwhelmed by information, by knowledge known and unknown. We’re curious creatures, we humans; there’s always been more to learn, always been more to learn than is humanly possible.

    With every new “information technology” that humans have invented – dating all the way back to the earliest writing and numeric systems, back to the ancient Sumerians and cuneiform, for example – we have seen an explosion in the amount of information produced and as a result, we’ve faced crises, again and again, over how this surplus of information will be stored and managed and accessed and learned and taught. (Hence, the development of the codex, the index, the table of contents, for example. The creation of the library.) According to one history of the printing press, by 1500 – only five decades or so after Johannes Gutenberg published his famous Bible – there were between 150 and 200 million books in circulation in Europe.

    All this is to say, that ever since humans have been writing things down, there have been more things to read and learn than any one of us could possibly read and learn.

    But that’s okay, because we can write things down. We can preserve ideas – facts, figures, numbers, stories, observations, research, ramblings – for the future. Not just for ourselves to read later, but to extend beyond our lifetime. (The challenge for education – then and now – in the face of the overabundance of information has always been, in part, to determine what pieces of information should be “required knowledge.” Not simply “required knowledge” for a test or for graduation, but “required knowledge” to move you towards a deeper understanding of a topic, towards expertise perhaps.)

    Of course, the great irony is that “writing things down” preserved one of the most famous criticisms of the technology of writing – Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus.

    Plato tells the story of Socrates telling a story in turn of a meeting between the king of Egypt, Thamus, and the god Theuth, the inventor of many arts including arithmetic and astronomy. Theuth demonstrates his inventions for the king, who does not approve of the invention of writing.

    But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

    Plato makes it clear in Phaedrus that Socrates shares Thamus’s opinion of writing – a deep belief that writing enables a forgetfulness of knowledge via the very technology that promises its abundance and preservation. “He would be a very simple person,” Socrates tells Phaedrus, “who deemed that writing was at all better than knowledge and recollection of the same matters.”

    Writing will harm memory, Socrates argues, and it will harm the truth. Writing is insufficient and inadequate when it comes to teaching others. Far better to impart knowledge to others via “the serious pursuit of the dialectician.” Via a face-to-face exchange. Via rhetoric. Via discussion. Via direction instruction.

    Or now, some two thousand years later, we debate whether it’s better to take notes by hand in class or to use the computer. We’re okay with writing as a technology now; it’s this new information technology that causes us some concern about students’ ability to remember.

    Information technologies do change memory. No doubt. Socrates was right about this. But what I want to underscore in this talk is not just how these technologies affect our individual capacity to remember but how they also serve to extend memory beyond us.

    By preserving memory and knowledge, these technologies have helped create and expand collective memory – through time and place. We can share this collective memory. This collective memory is culture – that is, the sharable, accessible, alterable, transferable knowledge we pass down from generation to generation and pass across geographical space, thanks to information technologies. The technologies I pointed to earlier – the telephone, radio, television, the Internet, mobile phones – these have all shifted collective memory and culture, as of course the printing press did before that.

    One of the challenges that education faces is that, while we label its purpose – one of its purposes – as “the pursuit of knowledge,” we’re actually greatly interested in and responsible for “the preservation of knowledge,” for the extension of collective memory. Educational institutions, at advanced levels, do demand the creation of new knowledge. But that’s not typically the task that’s assigned to most students – for them, it’s about learning about existing knowledge, committing collective memory to personal memory.

    One of the problems with this latest information technology is that we use the word “memory,” a biological mechanism, to describe data storage. We use the word in such a way that suggests computer memory and human memory are the same sort of process, system, infrastructure, architecture. They are not. But nor are either human or computer memory quite the same as some previous information technologies, those to which we’ve outsourced our “memory” in the past.

    Human memory is partial, contingent, malleable, contextual, erasable, fragile. It is prone to embellishment and error. It is designed to filter. It is designed to forget.

    Most information technologies are not. They are designed to be much more durable than memories stored in the human brain. These technologies fix memory and knowledge, in stone, on paper, in moveable type. From these technologies, we have gained permanence, stability, unchangeability, materiality.

    Digital information technologies aren’t quite any of those. Digital data is more robust, perhaps. It doesn’t just include what you wrote but when you wrote it, how long it took you to write it, how many edits, and so on. But as you edit, it’s pretty apparent: digital data is easy overwritten; it is easily erased. It’s stored in file formats that – unlike the alphabet, a technology that’s thousands of years old – can become quickly obsolete, become corrupted. Digital data is reliant on machines in order to be read – that means too these technologies are reliant on electricity or on battery power and on a host of rare earth materials, all of which do take an environmental and political toll. Digital information is highly prone to decay – even more than paper, ironically enough, which was already a more fragile and flammable technology than the stone tablets that it replaced. It was more efficient, of course, to write on paper than to carve stone. And as a result, humans created much more information when we moved from stone to paper and then from writing by hand to printing by machine. But what we gained in efficiency, all along the way we have we lost in durability.

    If you burn down a Library of Alexandria full of paper scrolls, you destroy knowledge. If you set fire to a bunch stone tablets, you further preserve the lettering. Archeologists have uncovered tablets that are thousands and thousands of years old. Meanwhile, I can no longer access the data I stored on floppy disks twenty years ago. My Macbook Air doesn’t read CD-ROMs, the media I used to store data less than a decade ago.

    The average lifespan of a website, according to the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle is 44 days – and again, much like the estimates about the amount of data we’re producing, there really aren’t any reliable measures here (it’s actually quite difficult to measure). That is, the average length of time from when a web page is created and when the URL is no longer accessible is about a month and a half. Research conducted by Google pegged the amount of time that certain malware-creating websites stay online is less than two hours, and certainly this short duration along with the vast number of sites spun up for these nefarious purposes skews any sort of “average.” Geocities lasted fifteen years; MySpace lasted about six before it was redesigned as an entertainment site; Posterous lasted five. But no matter the exact lifespan of a website, we know, in general, it’s pretty short. According to a 2013 study, half of the links cited in US Supreme Court decisions – and this is certainly the sort of thing we’d want to preserve and learn from for centuries to come – are already dead.

    Web service providers shut down, websites go away, and even if they stay online, they regularly change (sometimes with little indication that they’ve done so). “Snapshots” of some 491 billion web pages have been preserved, thanks to the work of the San Francisco-based non-profit the Internet Archive, by the “Wayback Machine” which does offer us some ability to browse archived Web content, including from sites that no longer exist. But not all websites allow the Wayback Machine to index them. It’s an important but partial effort.

    We might live in a time of digital abundance, but our digital memories – our personal memories and our collective memories – are incredibly brittle. We might be told we’re living in a time of rapid technological change, but we are also living in a period of rapid digital data decay, of the potential loss of knowledge, the potential loss of personal and collective memory.

    “This will go down on your permanent record” – that’s long been a threat in education. And we’re collecting more data than ever before about students. But what happens to it? Who are the stewards of digital data? Who are the stewards of digital memory? Of culture?

    With our move to digital information technologies, we are entrusting our knowledge and our memories – our data, our stories, our status updates, our photos, our history – to third-party platforms, to technologies companies that might not last until 2020 let alone preserve our data in perpetuity or ensure that it’s available and accessible to scholars of the future. We are depending – mostly unthinkingly, I fear – on these platforms to preserve and to not erase, but they are not obligated to do so. The Terms of Service decree that if your “memory” is found to be objectionable or salable, for example, they can deal with it as they deem fit.

    Digital data is fragile. The companies selling us the hardware and software to store this data are fragile.

    And yet we are putting a great deal of faith into computers as “memory machines.” Now, we’re told, (purportedly) the machine can and should remember for you.

    As educational practices have long involved memorization (along with its kin, recitation), these changes to memory – that is, off-loading this functionality to specifically to computers, not to other information technologies like writing – could, some argue, change how and what we learn, how and what we must recall in the process.

    And so the assertion goes, machine-based memory will prove superior: it is indexable, searchable, for example. It can included things read and unread, things learned and things forgotten. Our memories and our knowledge and the things we do not know but should can be served to us “algorithmically,” we’re told, so that rather than the biological or contextual triggers for memory, we get a “push” notification. “Remember me.” “Do you remember this?” Memory and indeed all of education, some say, is poised to become highly “personalized.”

    It’s worth asking, no doubt, what happens to “collective memory” in a world of this sort of “personalization.” It’s worth asking who writes the algorithms; how do these value knowledge or memory – whose knowledge or memory, whose history, whose stories? Whose gets preserved?

    A vision of personalized, machine-based memory is not new. Here is an excerpt by Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, whose article “As We May Think” was published in 1945 in The Atlantic:

    Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, “memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

    It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.

    In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism.

    …Most of the memex contents are purchased on microfilm ready for insertion. Books of all sorts, pictures, current periodicals, newspapers, are thus obtained and dropped into place. Business correspondence takes the same path. And there is provision for direct entry. On the top of the memex is a transparent platen. On this are placed longhand notes, photographs, memoranda, all sorts of things. When one is in place, the depression of a lever causes it to be photographed onto the next blank space in a section of the memex film, dry photography being employed.

    …A special button transfers him immediately to the first page of the index. Any given book of his library can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf. As he has several projection positions, he can leave one item in position while he calls up another. He can add marginal notes and comments….

    There’s a lot that people have found appealing about this vision. A personal “memory machine” that you can add to organize as you deem fit. What you’ve read. What you hope to read. Notes and photographs you’ve taken. Letters you’ve received. It’s all indexed and readily retrievable by the “memory machine,” even when human memory might fail you.

    Bush’s essay about the Memex influenced both two of the most interesting innovators in technology: Douglas Englebart, inventor of the computer mouse among other things, and Ted Nelson, inventor of hypertext. (And I think we’d agree that, a bit like Nelson’s vision for the associative linking in hypertext, we’d likely want something akin to the Memex to be networked today – that is, not simply our own memory machine but one connected to others’ machines as well.)

    But hypertext’s most famous implementation – the World Wide Web – doesn’t quite work like the Memex. It doesn’t even work like a library. As I said a moment ago, links break; websites go away. Copyright law, in its current form, stands in the way of our readily accessing and sharing materials.

    While it sparked the imagination of Englebart and Nelson, the idea of a “memory machine” like the Memex seems to have had little effect on the direction that education technology has taken. The development of “teaching machines” during and after WWII, for example, was far less concerned with an “augmented intellect” than with enhanced instruction. As Paul Saettler writes about computer-assisted instruction in his history of ed-tech The Evolution of American Educational Technology, the bulk of these

    …directly descended from Skinnerian teaching machines and reflected a behaviorist orientation. The typical CAI presentation modes known as drill-and-practice and tutorial were characterized by a strong degree of author control rather than learner control. The student was asked to make simple responses, fill in the blanks, choose among a restricted set of alternatives, or supply a missing word or phrase. If the response was wrong, the machine would assume control, flash the word “wrong,” and generate another problem. If the response was correct, additional material would be presented. The function of the computer was to present increasingly difficult material and provide reinforcement for correct responses. The program was very much in control and the student had little flexibility.

    Rather than building devices that could enhance human memory and human knowledge for each individual, education technology has focused instead on devices that standardize the delivery of curriculum, that run students through various exercises and assessments, and that provide behavioral reinforcement.

    Memory as framed by most education (technology) theories and practices involves memorization– like Edward Thorndike’s “law of recency,” for example, or H. F. Spitzer’s “spaced repetition.” That is, ed-tech products often dictate what to learn and when and how to learn it. (Ironically, this is still marketed as “personalization.”) The vast majority of these technologies and their proponents have not demanded we think about either the challenges or the obstacles that digital information technologies present for memory and learning other than the promises that somehow, when done via computer, that memorization (and therefore learning) becomes more efficient.

    Arguably, the Memex could be seen as an antecedent to some of the recent pushback against the corporate control of the Web, of education technology, of our personal data, our collective knowledge, our memories. Efforts like “Domain of One’s Own” and IndieWebCamp, for example, urge us to rethink to whom we are outsourcing this crucial function. These efforts ask, how can we access knowledge, how can we build knowledge on our terms, not on the Terms of Service of companies like Google or Blackboard?

    The former, “Domain of One’s Own” is probably one of the most important commitments to memory – to culture, to knowledge – that any school or scholar or student can make. This initiative began at the University of Mary Washington, whereby the school gave everyone, students and faculty alike, their own domain – not just a bit of server space on the university’s domain, but their very own website (their own dot com or dot org or what have you) where they could post and store and share their own work – their knowledge, their memory.

    On the Web, our knowledge and memory can be networked and shared, and we could – if we chose – built a collective Memex. But it would require us to rethink much of the infrastructure and the ideology that currently governs how technology is built and purchased and talked about. It requires us to counter the story that “technology is changing faster than ever before and it’s so overwhelming so let’s just let Google be responsible for the world’s information.”

    Here’s what I want us to ask ourselves, our institutions: who controls our “memory machines” today? Is the software and the hardware (or in Vannevar Bush’s terms, the material and the desk) owned and managed and understand by each individual or is it simply licensed and managed by another engineer, company, or organization? Are these “memory machines” extensible and are they durable? How do we connect and share our memory machines so that they are networked, so that we don’t build a future that’s simply about a radical individualization via technology, walled off into our own private collections. How do we build a future that values the collective and believes that it is the responsibility of the public, not private corporations, to be stewards of knowledge?

    We build that future not by being responsible or responsive to technology for the sake of technology or by rejecting technology for the sake of hoping nothing changes. The tension between change and tradition is something we have always had to grapple with in culture. It’s a tension that is innate, quite likely, to educational institutions. We can’t be swept up in stories about technological change and think that by buying the latest gadget, we are necessarily bringing about progressive change.

    Our understanding of the past has to help us build a better future. That's the purpose of collective memory, when combined with a commitment to collective justice.

    Who controls our memory machines will control our future. (They always have.)

    Credits: Slides 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Inspired by Dave Cormier’s “Learning in a Time of Abundance” and Abby Smith Rumsey’s When We Are No More; infuriated by ridiculous claims about the future of education technology made by too many people to cite

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  • 07/15/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    The US Senate has voted to approve the nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden as the new Librarian of Congress.

    Conservatives in Kansas are trying to rebrand public education with the label “government schools.”

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Donald Trump has chosen Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate. Inside Higher Ed has a story on Pence’s higher ed policies. Here’s an old article from Chalkbeat on Pence’s K–12 policies.

    Education in the Courts

    Via Buzzfeed: “On Friday, the California attorney general won a groundbreaking $168.5 million settlement against the country’s largest operator of online charter schools. Or, after a lengthy investigation, it managed to collect only $2.5 million from a business that pulled in almost $1 billion in revenue in 2015 – with no fines, penalties, or admission of wrongdoing. Which one is true? It all depends on who you ask.” More on the settlement with the virtual charter school K12 Inc in Education Week and The Wall Street Journal.

    “Ten more states sued the federal government on Friday over a directive to public schools on bathroom use by transgender students, adding their objections to those of 11 states that brought a lawsuit soon after the directive was released in May,” The New York Times reports.

    “The Star Tribune is suing the Minneapolis Public Schools in an effort to force the release of data relating to student suspensions, school climate issues and district spending, among other concerns,” The Star Tribune reports.

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.) and her chief of staff, Elias ‘Ronnie’ Simmons, were charged Friday with 24 counts of fraud and other crimes that federal prosecutors said allowed them to use a charity as a ‘personal slush fund.’” The charity in question: the One Door for Education-Amy Anderson Scholarship Fund.

    Via Politico: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a legal challenge by student loan debt collectors who accused the Education Department of unfairly terminating them last year.”

    Corey Menafee, an employee at Yale, took a broomstick and smashed a stained glass window depicting slaves carrying bales of cotton in the university’s Calhoun residential college dining hall. He was arrested and facing felony charges, although according to The New York Times, Yale has declined to pursue the case against him.

    More on legal cases in the sports and for-profit higher ed sections below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Nevada officials announced Tuesday that a common-core assessment consortium will credit the state $1.8 million as compensation for problems that derailed a spate of its assessments last year,” Education Week reports.

    Via Education Next: “The Politics of the Common Core Assessments.” The article notes that “The number of states planning to use the new [SBAC and PARCC] tests dropped from 45 in 2011 to 20 in 2016.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Are MOOCs Forever?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education in an interview with Coursera’s Daphne Koller. (Spoiler alert: no.)

    Via Edsurge: “Oklahoma Joins Ranks of States and Agencies Cracking Down on Virtual Charter Schools.”

    There’s more on virtual charters, namely K12 Inc, in the legal section above.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    Via Politico: “Advocates for Corinthian Colleges students are starting a new legal battle today to discharge the private loan debt students took on to attend the now-defunct for-profit college chain. An ex-Corinthian student is filing a federal class-action lawsuit against the firms that now own the private loans, as well as a collection company seeking to recoup the debt from borrowers.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Justice Department is investigating whether a for-profit college company violated federal financial aid rules.” The company in question: Bridgepoint Education, which owns Ashford University and the University of the Rockies.

    Welfare Reform, For-Profit Education, and Community Collegesby “Dean Dad” Matt Reed.

    The for-profit Rasmussen College has been approved by the Department of Education to offer competency-based degrees in business management and accounting.

    There’s more data on the “shrinking” for-profit higher ed sector in the research section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    Via Catalyst Chicago: “The question of tech equity.”

    Via The LA Times: “UC Berkeley chancellor under investigation for alleged misuse of public funds, personal use of campus fitness trainer.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “New Mexico State U. Will Eliminate 126 Positions to Close Budget Gap.”

    U. of California Increases In-State Admissions,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Five-year olds and laser cutters – perfect together? Welcome to the first early childhood fab lab.”

    “Schools That Integrate Technology: Silicon Valleyby Larry Cuban.

    Accreditation and Certification

    See the “for-profit higher ed” section above for news on CBE.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “The Fight Between Berkeley’s Academics And Its Football Team Is Getting Ugly,” says Deadspin. “Despite Controversy, Berkeley Renews a Football Coach’s $150,000 Contract,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via Newsworks: “New court documents reveal that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno knew about allegations of sex abuse against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in 1976 and did nothing about it.”

    From the HR Department

    Facebook’s third diversity report in two years shows its demographics have shifted very little, with African Americans and Hispanics still comprising a tiny fraction of the tech giant’s workforce,” USA Today reports. Facebook blames its lack of diversity on public schools and on “the pipeline” (riiiiiiight) and so it’s giving $15 million to so that more kids learn to code.

    CodeNow founder Ryan Seashore is stepping down as CEO. He’ll be replased by Neal Sales-Griffin, founder of the coding school the Starter League.

    Via the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Temple University’s board of trustees on Tuesday took a unanimous vote of no confidence in president Neil D. Theobald during a private session, and announced its intention to dismiss him.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via Education Week: “Ed-Tech Software Group Objects to Messages in Feds’ #GoOpen Campaign.” (For those keeping score at home, the SIIA is also challenging other aspects of the Obama Administration’s digital efforts, including 18F and USDS.)

    One of the trends I’m watching this year is the investment – in venture capital and in PR – in “social emotional development” products and practices. See Edsurge this week, for example: “In the Age of ‘No-Excuses’ Schools: A Case for Compassion and Better Social-Emotional Learning” and “Don’t Teach Grit. Embed It.”

    Oh look. Another startup accelerator program, this one a partnership between NYU’s Steinhardt School and StartEd.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Virtual Reality on the Horizon.”

    The Ed-Fi Alliance and IMS Global Learning Consortium have announced their plans to develop “a single, unified approach for rostering across the most adopted K–12 data standards and have now further solidified their joint support for IMS OneRoster™ as the cross-industry rostering API.” Hooray. Trademarked standards.

    A “personalized learning explainer” from Mindwire Consulting.

    Via Edsurge: “Not Sure What Courseware to Try? This Tool Wants to Make Your Decision Easier.” “This tool” is the Courseware in Context (CWiC) framework, “developed the framework in collaboration with the Online Learning Consortium and research firm SRI International, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

    “About The Blackboard Partnership With IBM And Amazon Web Servicesby Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    In other Blackboard news: “Blackboard Releases ‘Ultra Experience’” – OMG, that name.

    5.3 Reasons Pokemon Go will Replace the LMS” by Tom Woodward.

    More on Pokemon GO in the privacy section below. Sigh.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Codecademy has raised $30 million from Naspers, Union Square Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, Index Ventures, and Richard Branson. The learn-to-code startup has raised $42.5 million total. (Noteworthy: this is the third recent ed-tech investment by Naspers– a South African media conglomerate and “the former mouthpiece of apartheid” – which recently backed Udemy and Brainly.)

    Unique Heritage Media has acquiredPili Pop Labs.

    Ray Business Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has acquiredQuickEdmin.

    Escala Educacional has acquiredLeYa Educação.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Pokemon Go wants to catch (almost) all your app permissions,” says Techcrunch. Bill Fitzgerald offers some “Concrete Steps to Take to Minimize Risk While Playing Pokemon GO.” (I really really really don’t want to have to weigh in on Pokemon and the ed-tech revolution, but maybe I’ll put something in the newsletter I send out tomorrow.)

    The latest in bad blockchain ideas: the UK government will test using the blockchain to track welfare recipients.

    Data and “Research”

    According to data released by the Department of Education (and reported by Inside Higher Ed), “the number of for-profit colleges eligible to award federal financial aid fell to 3,265 last fall, down from 3,436 in fall 2014, a decline of 5 percent. The number of public institutions grew by one and the number of private nonprofit colleges grew by 26 over that year (from 1,883 to 1,909).”

    Google has released its 2016 Scholar Metrics.

    EduKwest has its latest market report – this one on Chinese investments – available for sale.

    Via the Pacific Standard: “Youth Suicides in Utah Are on the Rise.”

    According to Forbes, the top five bestselling children’s authors are Jeff Kinney, J. K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Rick Riordan, and Rachel Renee Russell. Together, they sold some $73.6 million worth of books last year.

    According to a survey by CDW-G, “67% of school IT solutions are now delivered either in part or in full through the cloud.”

    A study has found companies are not happy with their corporate LMSes. Is anyone anywhere happy with their LMS?!

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 07/22/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Presidential Campaign Politics

    On the Republican Party platform and presidential ticket:

    Trump plan would base student loans on employability,” the Hechinger Report says. “The RNC wants to make student loans competitive again. They never were,” writes Susan Dynarski. (More on private student loans in the “upgrades and downgrades” section below.)

    “The Republican Platform on Higher Education Is a Mess,” says New America.

    Via Edsurge: “Republican Party Platform Addresses Education, Nods to Edtech.” (Congrats, ed-tech.) More on the platform via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The New York Times: “Mike Pence’s Record on Education Is One of Turmoil and Mixed Results.”

    From the Republican National Convention:

    TurnItIn was pleased, I’m sure, to be invoked many times following Melania Trump’s convention speech, which plagiarized passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech.

    Via The Washington Post: “Donald Trump Jr. trashes U.S. public schools (though he didn’t attend one).”

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke on Wednesday night. (The education angle here, as Vox points out: “Pam Bondi decided not to sue Trump University– and got a $25,000 donation from Trump.”)

    The president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, spoke on Wednesday night. Inside Higher Ed interviewed Falwell, who uttered this gem about other universities: “A lot of these schools have become Democratic Party indoctrination camps.”

    Venture capitalist, supervillain, and Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel spoke Thursday night. Thiel, who laments women’s suffrage, has been in the news recently after it was revealed he was financing Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker – revenge against the publication, some surmise, for outing Thiel as gay. Some touted Thiel’s appearance as a breakthrough moment for the RNC; and some have tried to explain why Thiel, purportedly a libertarian, would back an authoritarian for president. (Spoiler alert: capitalism.)

    Tune in next week as the dumpster fire will burn in Philadelphia.

    (Elsewhere in) Education Politics

    Following a failed coup attempt in Turkey, some 15,000 education staff have been suspended, the BBC reports. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Turkish government’s post-coup demand for the resignations of 1,500 university deans appears to be a blanket measure that will allow for case-by-case examinations of political loyalty, Turkish experts on the country said on Wednesday.” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accusedFethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania and among other things runs a large charter school chain in the US, of plotting the coup.

    Via The Chicago Tribune: “Gov. Bruce Rauner once told some of Chicago‘s wealthiest and most influential civic leaders that half of Chicago Public Schools’ teachers ‘are virtually illiterate’ and half of the city’s principals are ‘incompetent,’ according to emails Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration released Thursday under a court order.”

    “U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. on Wednesday announced new guidelines that aim to provide more transparent information for borrowers and more accountability for the companies that manage repayment of federal student loans,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Education in the Courts

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, is facing a lawsuit from two shareholders who are seeking to postpone or terminate the company’s sale, according to a corporate filing posted Thursday.”

    Transgender high school students in Maryland and Wisconsin who were banned from boys’ facilities in their schools have filed federal lawsuits arguing that the prohibitions violate their civil rights,” The Washington Post reports.

    Via The Oregonian: “Two former University of Oregon Counseling & Testing Center employees, who blew the whistle on a superior they said accessed an alleged rape victim’s health records without her consent, settled a lawsuit with the school.”

    Minnesota Public Radio is suing the ed-tech startup Listen Current for trademark infringement. 89.3 The Current is the name of the radio station’s music service. Listen Current was founded by former public radio journalist Monica Brady-Myerov.

    Testing, Testing…

    More on the effects of digital devices on testing in the research section below.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Udacity wants to help you become a self-taught self-driving car engineer,” says Techcrunch. (How are you “self-taught” if you pursue a nanodegree program? I do not know.)

    Edsurge reports that Smartly has launched its free, online MBA program. (The word “unaccredited,” strangely, does not appear in the story.) Smartly was co-founded by former Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    From the press release: “Sabio, a Los Angeles-based software engineering program, works with highly motivated and smart individuals wanting to transition to software engineering professions, has been approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.”

    From the blog: “Nashville Software School (NSS) is proud to announce that our full-time Web Developer Bootcamp has been approved by the Tennessee State Approving Agency for Veterans Education and Training. We are the first coding bootcamp program in the Southeast U.S. approved to accept the GI Bill and one of the first five in the entire country.”

    “In Brazil the For-Profit Giants Keep Growing,” Inside Higher Ed blogger Marcelo Knobel observes.

    More on the future of Apollo Education, the parent company of the for-profit University of Phoenix, in the legal section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    University tuition fees rise to £9,250 for current students,” the BBC reports.

    “Embattled Dowling College to Close After All,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Something something Malcolm Gladwell something something.

    Accreditation and Certification

    It’s not accreditation per se, but there are some updates to regulatory oversight of coding bootcamps in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The New York Times: “Baylor Sexual Assault Report Produces Punishment, but No Paper Trail.”

    From the HR Department

    “Labor Board Ruling Could Allow Grad Students to Unionize,” The Wall Street Journal frets.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Yale Rehires Worker Who Smashed Window Depicting Slavery.”

    Also via The Chronicle: “Bonuses Push More Public-College Leaders Past $1 Million.”

    “Long Beach’s Eloy Oakley named chancellor of California Community Colleges,” The Press Telegram reports.

    Luci Willits, the deputy CEO of Smarter Balanced, is leaving the testing group to join the testing company Curriculum Associates, says Politico.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Amazonannounced that it is partnering with Wells Fargo to offer student loans– Amazon Prime Student subscribers will be eligible for half a percentage point reduction on their interest rate for private student loans. (As I’ve stated elsewhere, private student loans and the expansion of “fintech” into education is one of the most important ed-tech trends to watch, although you wouldn’t know if it you only read those ed-tech publications that downplay VCs’ interest in the private loan market.) Here’s Inside Higher Ed on the news, which notes that consumer advocates are concerned about the offering. No surprise, as last year the CFPB investigated the bank’s student loan practices. As US News & World Reports reports, “Wells Fargo, one of the largest private student loan lenders that services more than 1 million borrowers, received the fourth most complaints out of all private student loan servicers, according to a 2015 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

    More on student loans in The Atlantic: “When Employers Pay Student Loans, Those Who Most Need Help Are Left Out.”

    Duolingo wants to reinvent flashcards with Tinycards,” says Techcrunch.

    “Should teachers care about Pokémon Go?” asks Dean Groom.

    “Teachers Want Better Ed-Tech Science Tools. Will the Market Provide Them?” asks Education Week.

    (Remember Betteridge’s law of headlines, kids.)

    Blackboard Learn Ultra: Ready or not?” asks Phil Hill.

    “Activists and educators on Monday called a Mexican-American studies textbook proposed for use across Texas biased and poorly researched and argued that its contents are especially offensive in a state where a majority of public school students are Hispanic,” the AP reports. “‘Industrialists were very driven, competitive men,’ the textbook says, according to excerpts. ’In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of ”manana,“ or ‘tomorrow.’”

    Library of Congress wracked by DNS attack,” FCW reports.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Private student loan provider CommonBond has raised $300 million in debt financing and $30 million in Series B funding. Investors include Neuberger Berman Private Equity, August Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, Social Capital, Nyca Partners, and Victory Park Capital. It has also acquired Gradible for an undisclosed amount. Excluding the debt financing (it raised $275 million that way in January), the company has raised $78.61 million total.

    Modo Labs has raised $10 million from Education Growth Partners. The company, which helps universities build mobile apps, has raised $17.4 million.

    Schoold has raised $1.55 million from Learn Capital, Social Capital, University Ventures, and Joe Grundfest. The college search app raised $4.5 million earlier this year.

    Code school Code Institute has raised $556,000 from Kernel Capital and Enterprise Ireland.

    Test prep company Transweb has raised $120,000 from 500 Startups.

    Pluralsight has acquiredTrain Simple, a provider of Adobe software training.

    EverFi has acquiredLawRoom.

    Private equity firm Quad-C Management has acquiredRainbow Early Education.

    “The vast science-citation database ‘Web of Science’ will be sold by its long-time owner, Thomson Reuters, as part of a US$3.55-billion divestment of the firm’s intellectual-property and science division,” Nature reports.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Via The Washington Post: “Pokémon Go sparks concern about children’s privacy.”

    Spot the errors about COPPA and privacy in this story about Pokémon Go.

    “What Could Go Wrong With Asking Teachers To Monitor Kids for ‘Extremist’ Beliefs?” asks the ACLU.

    “Will fingerprint scans at Lake Zurich School District 95 protect students’ privacy?” asks the Lake Zurich Courier. Dear god no.

    Not directly education-related, but I’ll include it here nonetheless: “US cannot force Microsoft to hand over emails stored abroad, court rules,” The Guardian reports. More via Inside Higher Ed blogger Tracy Mitrano.

    Data and “Research”

    Via Education Week: “A Persistent Divide: New Federal Data Explore Education Disparities.”

    Back-to-School Spending Set to Rise 11% as Confidence Grows,” says Bloomberg.

    The investment analysts at CB Insights have released “The Venture Pulse Report, Q2 2016.” (No mention of education, to give you a sense of how weak the ed-tech venture capital pulse might be right now.)

    According to Gartner (as reported by Education Week), “U.S. Personal Computer Market Grows Despite International Decline.”

    Via Education Week: “High-achieving North Carolina 8th graders who took Algebra 1 online performed worse than similar students who took the course in a traditional classroom, according to a new study from researchers at Northwestern University.”

    Inside Higher Ed writes up the results of a “New Study of Online Student Market,” a survey by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Which Ed-Tech Tools Truly Work? New Project Aims to Tell Why No One Seems Eager to Find Out.” (Um. Why would we trust a startup incubator, even one housed at a university, to provide an answer to this.)

    Via Education Week: “Some test questions are likely harder to answer on tablets than on laptop and desktop computers, presenting states and districts with a new challenge as they move to widespread online assessments. Analyses by test providers and other organizations have pointed to evidence of small but significant ‘device effects’ for tests administered in some grades and subjects and on certain types of assessment items.”

    Education Week also reports on a new study by Carol Dweck on poverty and “growth mindset.”

    Via the Pew Research Center: “Research in the Crowdsourcing Age, a Case Study.” Among the findings, Mechanical Turk workers report earning less than minimum wage.

    “The Long-Term Effects of Social-Justice Education on Black Students” by Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 07/29/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Presidential Campaign Politics

    Convention Week #2. This time, it was the Democrats’ turn.

    Higher ed showed up in Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech Thursday night, including a mention of her plans to make school debt-free. “And here’s something we don't say often enough,” she added. “College is crucial, but a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job.”

    Via NPR: “Clinton’s Free-Tuition Promise: What Would It Cost? How Would It Work?”

    The Washington Post profilesAnne Holton, wife of VP candidate Tim Kaine, former Secretary of Education in the state of Virginia. Inside Higher Ed has more on Kaine’s higher ed record.

    There was quite a bit of education talk at this week’s DNC. President Obama was introduced Wednesday night, for example, by Sharon Belkofer, a member of the Rossford, Ohioschool board.

    Via Politico: Stolen “emails from the Democratic National Committee show DNC Deputy Communications Director Eric Walker telling his colleagues to avoid mentioning the Common Core in a video. It ‘is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it.’”

    Melania Trump’s website has been scrubbed from the Internet– it now redirects to the Trump real estate business page – following questions that she’d lied on the website about having a college degree.

    Education Politics

    Via the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education today proposed regulations that seek to improve oversight and protect more than 5.5 million distance education students at degree-granting institutions, including nearly 3 million exclusively online students by clarifying the state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education.” More on the proposed rules from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Ars Technica: “AT&T overcharged two Florida school districts for phone service and should have to pay about $170,000 to the US government to settle the allegations, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. AT&T disputes the charges and will contest the decision.”

    Education Department Releases Guidance on Homeless Children and Youth.”

    “Thirty-one academics from Istanbul University were detained on Monday on the suspicion that they have links to what the government calls the ‘Fethullah Terrorist Organization,’” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Education in the Courts

    The EFF has picked its stupid patent of the month, and congrats ed-tech, you’re it: “Another month, another terrible patent being asserted in the Eastern District of Texas. Solocron Education LLC, a company whose entire ‘education’ business is filing lawsuits, owns U.S. Patent No. 6,263,439, titled ‘Verification system for non-traditional learning operations.’ What kind of ‘verification system’ does Solocron claim to have invented? Passwords.”

    Via NPR: “Ash Whitaker has filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against his school district. The transgender teen says the Kenosha [Wisconsin] School District has essentially created a surveillance program to monitor his bathroom usage, with plans to issue green wristbands to help identify transgender students.”

    “The University of Michigan has agreed to pay $165,000 to settle what was left of a lawsuit over a graduate student’s dismissal from an engineering program in 2011,” the AP reports. The student, Jennifer Dibbern, claimed she was fired in retaliation for her union activities.

    Via Gawker: “Black Elementary School Teacher Body-Slammed By Cop and Lectured on ‘Violent Tendencies’ of Black People.”

    Via the AP: “Remington Arms and the families of some victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have agreed that any dispute over the release of company documents in a lawsuit brought by the families and a surviving teacher will be decided by a judge.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A former hockey player at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks who was acquitted of rape says the university system is unreasonably withholding his bachelor’s degree.” He is suing the university.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Court Rejects Florida International’s Trademark Claim Against Florida National.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via Reuters: “Students and teachers detail pervasive cheating in a program owned by test giant ACT.” The program in question: The Global Assessment Certificate program.

    Via Politico: “It’s been just over one year since the College Board overhauled the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam and found itself under fire from conservatives who felt the new approach emphasized ‘America as a nation of oppressors and exploiters.’ Now, the College Board is being criticized for its new AP European History framework.”

    Carthage Goes Test Optional on Admissions,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    The University System of MarylandjoinsedX.

    From MIT President L. Rafael Reif: “Letter regarding the future of MIT OpenCourseWare.”

    There’s more on proposed regulations for online education in the politics section above.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    Inside Higher Ed on the “next act” of Corinthian Colleges: “Zenith Education gets a new CEO and $250 million from its guaranty agency owner, to continue effort to reinvent career education and recover from shedding 29 campuses and 23,000 students since buying the remains of failed for-profit.”

    Via USA Today: “The Education Department will cut off federal student financial aid July 31 to three for-profit medical education campuses, saying the schools exaggerated their job placement rates.” The school in question: Medtech Colleges, a for-profit medical school. The campuses in Falls Church VA, Silver Spring MD, and Washington DC will lose their federal financial aid.

    Via TechRepublic: “Reactor Core founder: short-term programs, not four-year degrees, are the future of tech education.” He wishes, certainly.

    More on layoffs at the coding bootcamp General Assembly in the HR section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    Via Education International: “Bridge International Academies appears to be losing its foothold in Uganda following a government decision to close 87 for-profit primary schools, including those belonging to Bridge, after failing to comply with minimum standards and regulations.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “For Native Students, Education’s Promise Has Long Been Broken.”

    The Austin American-Statesman on the 50th anniversary of the UT Tower shooting (and new campus carry laws in the state).

    Via The Monitor: “Less than a year after classes formally began at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a ‘culture of fear is pervasive’ on campus that is exacerbated by poor communication by the administration, concludes a recent white paper study produced by the university’s faculty senate.”

    513 schools are on the Department of Education’s financial watchlist, The Wall Street Journal reports, noting that that’s down from 528 three months ago.

    The University of Virginia is once again under investigation for its handling of sexual violence under Title IX.

    Pepperdine Drops Its Title IX Exemption,” IHE reports.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Spelman College Is Accused of Inaction After Anonymous Report of Gang Rape.”

    Via The Salt Lake Tribune: “After four women accused a Utah State University student of sex assaults, no charges and no apparent discipline.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Cambria-Rowe Business College will close on August 24, after its controversial accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, had its federal recognition thrown into doubt.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “NCAA Questions Host Cities on Possible Discrimination.”

    From the HR Department

    “Education Startup General Assembly Lays Off 7% of Staff,” says The Wall Street Journal.

    Via the New Haven Independent: “In the wake of widespread protests, the African-American cafeteria worker who broke a slavery-themed window in Yale’s Calhoun College had criminal charges against him dropped Tuesday and got his job back – on the condition that he forfeit his right to speak publicly.”

    Via the Seattle Times: “Jodi Kelly, the dean who became the focus of student protests at Seattle University this spring, has retired, ending one of the main points of contention between the protesters and the university.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    The new, HBO-first, VC-friendly Sesame Streetcontinues to betray the show’s original values. This week, it announced that it was ousting the long-time cast members who played Gordon, Luis, and Bob. Privatization and “innovation” are profoundly anti-human.

    “Who's Playing Matchmaker Between Students and Employers?” asks Edsurge. (Spoiler alert: startups! Wheee! Ed-tech to watch: job placement startups.)

    “Tens Of Thousands Of People Can Cancel Their Student Loans, But Don’t Know It,” says Buzzfeed.

    Via The New York Times: “How a Homeless Teenager’s Viral Story Caused a Battle Over GoFundMe Money.”

    It wasn’t directly related to education, but for all those keeping track of VR and AR hype in ed-tech, it’s perhaps worth noting: Skully, the maker of an AR helmet, has “crashed and burned,” Techcrunch reports.

    Minecraft will get Oculus Rift support in next few weeks,” according to The Verge.

    Halo has been testing its brain stimulating wearable with Olympic athletes ahead of Rio,” says Techcrunch. Just think of the education applications!

    Zynga Releases Free, Education-Focused Words With Friends EDU,” says Edsurge.

    Via The Atlantic: “The Rise of Educational Escape Rooms.”

    “A Platform to Monitor Learning” is the headline IHE uses to describe Yellowdig, a new social platform where instructors can watch how students interact and share information.

    Happy third birthday, Reclaim Hosting!

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Matific has raised $45 million in a round led by its director Leon Kamenev. The company has raised $57 million total.

    EverFi has raised $40 million in funding from Bezos Expeditions, New Enterprise Associates, Tomorrow Ventures, Rethink Education, Advance Publications, Rethink Impact, and Silicon Valley Bank. The company has raised $61 million total.

    Wonder Workshop has raised $20 million from WI Harper Group, Idea Bulb Ventures, Learn Capital, Charles River Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, and TCL. The robot startup, formerly known as Play-i, has raised $35.9 million total.

    Yellowdig has raised $1 million from SRI Capital. (More on the startup in the “upgrades and downgrades” section above.)

    Curricula maker n2y has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the Riverside Company.

    Analytics company Thrivist has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Crimson Ventures.

    Verizon will buy Yahoo for $4.8 billion.

    GreatSchools has acquiredSchoolie. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance Has Removed 10M Student Email Addresses and Won’t Collect Any More,” says Edsurge. “The data we don’t store cannot be stolen from us,” founder Hadi Partovi writes in a blog post. I wish more education companies would follow his lead.

    Via the Sunlight Foundation: “A look at local education data policies.”

    “Pop star tells fans to send their Twitter passwords, but it might be illegal,” says Ars Technica. Illegal or not, this is such a dumb idea. “#HackedByJohnson entices young fans so he can post cute messages in their name.”

    “Math Babe” Cathy O’Neil on“Horrifying New Credit Scoring in China.” More on this and how Web search history will be used to determine credit worthiness in The LA Times.

    Data and “Research”

    Global Ed Tech Startup Deals And Funding See An Uptick,” according to the latest report from investment analyst firm CB Insights.

    From Berkery Noyes, the “Mergers and Acquisitions Trend Report” for the first half of 2016.

    According to Edsurge’s calculations, “US Edtech Brings in $122M in June.”

    From Data & Society: “Personalized Learning: The Conversations We’re Not Having.”

    Via the Pew Research Center: “A majority of black Americans say that at some point in their lives they've experienced discrimination or were treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, but blacks who have attended college are more likely than those without any college experience to say so.”

    Although the percentage of students who report being bullied at school is down, girls still report being bullied at a slightly higher rate than boys. More on the National Crime Victimization Survey via Politico.

    “Public Dollars Don’t Favor Rich Students,” says The Atlantic. “A new study debunks the myth that wealthy college students receive more state money than do the economically disadvantaged.”

    Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill has updated a 2015 article with new data: “How Much Do Community College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks?”

    Phil Hill also weighs in on the latest Babson survey on OER.

    Via the Washington Post: “ Think teachers can’t be fired because of unions? Surprising results from new study.” (I guess it’s only surprising if you buy the story that unions prevent teachers from being fired.)

    “Two Reports Show Untapped Potential of Competency-Based Education,” according to Edsurge. These reports come from Jobs for the Future and Ellucian, Eduventures, and the American Council on Education – the latter who certainly have a lot of skin in the game of hyping CBE.

    Brainstorming Is Dumb,” says Fast Company.

    “Researchers Target Brain-Scanning Technology to Improve Ed. Software,” says Education Week. Funny that no matter how many times this stuff gets dismissed as neurobollocks or challenged as shoddy science, that it keeps getting revived by the hype machine.


    RIP University of Toronto scientist Ursula Franklin.

    “The viability of technology, like democracy, depends in the end on the practice of justice and on the enforcement of limits to power.” – Ursula Franklin

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 08/05/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via Politico: “Dozens of organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement released a policy platform this week that prominently features a range of education issues. It calls for ending the privatization of schools, returning ‘real community control’ to school systems, and advocates sweeping reform of school discipline policies.” (The policy documents are here and here.)

    The NAACP has approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion. More via NewsOne.

    Via the AP: “ Texas is investigating a charter school system that the Turkish government claims has ties to a moderate Islamic cleric it’s accused of inspiring a military coup attempt. The Texas Education Agency said Friday that Turkey alleges Harmony Public Schools gave preferential treatment to Turkish owned and operated vendors in violation of competitive bidding requirements. Turkey also alleges the school system misused U.S. and state funds by guaranteeing a $1.9 million bond for a Turkish operated charter network in Arkansas.”

    Via the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania’s fiscal watchdog on Wednesday questioned millions of public dollars paid to charter school landlords and called for the state to monitor such lease payments more closely.”

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Via The Daily Beast: “A U.S. judge has declined Donald Trump’s request to throw out a lawsuit that accuses the Republican presidential nominee of defrauding students of his Trump University, one of three cases involving the defunct institution.”

    Trump Video Depositions in University Suit Won’t Be Public,” Bloomberg laments.

    Education in the Courts

    Via The New York Times: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys' bathroom in a Virginia high school. The vote was 5 to 3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court’s more conservative members ‘as a courtesy.’ He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.”

    Denver District Judge Michael Martinez has ordered a halt to a Douglas County program that allowed parents to use vouchers to send their children to private schools.

    Via the Providence Journal: “St. George’s School has agreed to a settlement over sexual abuse allegations that would provide compensation for up to 30 former students, the elite Rhode Island boarding school announced Wednesday.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Robert T. Dillon, the biology professor at the College of Charleston who resisted administrators’ requests that he update his syllabus with learning outcomes, is suing the South Carolina college and says he will retire.”

    On the heels of a trademark complaint by the public media program Current, the edtech startup Listen Current has rebranded to Listenwise.

    There are more court cases in the presidential campaign section above and in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Reuters continues its investigation into test security: “‘Massive’ breach exposes hundreds of questions for upcoming SAT exams.”

    Via JSTOR: “The Bloody Results of Mexico’s High-Stakes School Testing.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    “Has New Hampshire found the secret to online education that works?” asks The Hechinger Report. (What does “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” tell us?) Here’s how Wired rewrote the headline: “Inside the Online School That Could Radically Change How Kids Learn Everywhere.” Because Wired.

    There’s more on virtual schools in the research section below.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Coding Boot Camps Grow, One Tries a Nonprofit Model.”

    Via Xconomy: “Coding Dojo, which runs software development bootcamps in San Jose, Seattle, and other cities, will be offering some of its programming courses at Bellevue College near Seattle this fall in what it hopes will be the first of several college partnerships.”

    (A question for colleges that are making these sorts of deals: if teaching programming skills is so fundamental to the future of your school, why are you outsourcing this function to for-profit companies? Have you learned nothing about for-profit higher ed?)

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Strapped for students, nonprofit colleges borrow recruiting tactic from for-profits.”

    The VC “take”:

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “New-student enrollment at institutions run by ITT Educational Services Inc. may drop by 45 to 60 percent over roughly the next six months, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a new corporate filing by the company.”

    More bad news for ITT: Inside Higher Ed reports that ITT’s accreditor could revoke the for-profit’s accreditation.

    Via The Portland Press Herald: “A troubled for-profit college network that was led by former Maine Gov. John McKernan controlled a nonprofit foundation in Portland for years that critics say should not have had charitable tax status and may have been designed to help circumvent federal rules governing access to student aid programs. Education Management Corporation, the Pittsburgh-based college network, disputes the charges, saying the foundation operated in accordance with tax law and that its giving did not help it get around the federal rules.”

    Meanwhile on Campus

    Atlanta Public Schools debut new police force,” WSB-TV reports. Every school will have a dedicated police force, which as Tressie McMillan Cottom quips, is more than have AP classes.

    Via BoingBoing: “‘After School Satan Club’ could be coming to elementary schools in the U.S.”

    “Responding to outcry from some parents, students and community members, Butler Traditional High has immediately suspended the section of its dress code policy that regulates how students can wear their hair,” The Courier Journal reports. That section was specifically targeted at Black students and included a ban on cornrows, twists, and dreadlocks.

    Harvard’s Finals Clubs are exclusive and The New York Times is on it.

    Via The Daily Californian: “Last weekend, an emergency exit was built near [UC Berkeley] Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ office as a security measure against potential protesters. The door, which cost $9,000, is located outside a short hallway between his conference room and his office in California Hall.” Odd, considering it’s been student protestors and not chancellors, who’ve been beaten, peppersprayed, and arrested.

    Via The Independent: “Number of disadvantaged students attending university [in the UK] falls for the first time.”

    Via the Austin American-Statesman: “Incorrect Latin word mars UT’s monument to victims of 1966 Tower sniper.

    Via The Indian Express: in Mumbai, “16-year-old ends life after not getting college of choice, 2nd case this week.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Anthony Bieda is resigning as the leader of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, said the large, national accrediting agency, which is facing an existential threat. Bieda took over in April after the abrupt departure of the group’s longtime president, Albert Gray. In addition to Bieda’s resignation, roughly a quarter of the agency’s staff has been laid off in recent days.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “A prominent technology think tank wants the federal government to encourage the use of standardized assessments to measure postsecondary knowledge and skills, with an approach that would separate learning from credentialing and challenge the dominance of traditional college degrees.”

    For more accreditation news, see the section above on for-profits.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A former Kent State University softball player who says she was raped by her coach’s son filed a complaint Tuesday asking the Supreme Court of Ohio to order the release of records that could shine new light on how the university handled her case.”

    “The sexual assault scandal that took down Baylor University’s president and revered football coach also found a problem with a bedrock of the school’s faith-based education: a student conduct code banning alcohol, drugs and premarital sex that may have driven some victims into silence,” the AP reports.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Star Quarterback’s Unfiltered Posts Set Off Debate About Athletes’ Speech Rights.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a statement sent to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Monday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argued the NCAA is overstepping its authority in attempting to punish the university for years of academic fraud involving athletes.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “Jan Boxill, the ethicist and former faculty chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose apparent participation in the shocking academic fraud there left observers amazed, says all the allegations against her are false.”

    From the HR Department

    Lord David Willetts, a proponent, among other things, of privatizing the British National Health Plan, has joined 2U as a strategic advisor.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Controversial College Chief Now Works on App That Compares Itself to Tinder.” (I was tempted to copy-paste this whole article here because OMFG the shadiness.)

    Apple has released its diversity report. Among the details, Buzzfeed reports, “Black employees now make up 9% of the company’s workforce, up from 8% in 2015; the number of Asians has increased from 18% to 19%; and Hispanics are up from 11% to 12%.”

    More HR news in the upgrades/downgrades section below.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    “The stock price for Pearson PLC, the world’s largest education business, dropped precipitously Friday after its announcement of a 7 percent decline in underlying sales to about $2.5 billion for the first half of 2016,” reports EdWeek’s Market Brief. Pearson also picked a new president for Pearson North America: Kevin Capitani, formerly an exec at SAP.

    “‘Sesame Street’ Looking to Bring Back Senior Cast Members After Uproar,” says KQED.

    “Anybody can now buy Microsoft’s $3,000 HoloLens,” says Techcrunch. “Anybody.”

    Via The Verge: “Kids can now learn to code with Pocky, the delicious Japanese snack.” JFC.

    Remember when Twitter announced that it was donating its archive to the Library of Congress? The Atlantic has an update (spoiler alert: there’s no update): “Six years after the announcement, the Library of Congress still hasn’t launched the heralded tweet archive, and it doesn’t know when it will. No engineers are permanently assigned to the project.”

    Quartz profiles Byju’s, which raised $75 million earlier this year: “India’s largest education technology startup was built by an engineer who aced CAT for fun – twice.”

    If you go to The Open Syllabus Project, you can see that its academic partners are Columbia University, UNC, and Utah State. But if you read this week’s Edsurge article, you’d think it was all happening at Stanford. Why, it’s almost as though all things ed-tech magically become Stanford’s innovations. MOOCs, CAI, and now this.

    Bitcoin worth $72 million stolen from Bitfinex exchange in Hong Kong,” says Reuters. But I’m sure the whole “blockchain in education” thing is gonna be super nifty and mega-secure.

    From EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin: “Blockchain Misconceptions and the Future of Education.”

    Knowmia Announces It’s Closing Up Shop on August 31,” says Edsurge.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Complete College America is getting into the quality-assurance business. The nonprofit, which advocates for remediation reform, performance-based funding and other strategies it argues will help more people graduate from college, on Monday launched the GPS Direct Seal of Approval program. The initiative will evaluate ed-tech vendors and their products, awarding the organization’s seal of approval to technology that is shown to help students get through college.”

    “Why Pokemon Go shows the future of learning gamification,” according to Education Dive. Via Education Week: “Educators Weigh Learning Value of Pokémon Go.”

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Vipkid has raised $100 million in Series C funding from Sequoia Capital and Yunfeng Capital. The Chinese company matches kids age 5 to 12 to native English-speaking tutors. It has raised $125 million total.

    Byndr has raised $700,000 in seed funding from University of Pennsylvania's Education Design Studio accelerator and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

    Volaris Group has acquiredThe Alpha School System. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Edgenuity has acquiredCompass Learning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Edgenuity, which is owned by Weld North LLC, has recently been in news for its financial relationship with Alabama’s former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, who was sentenced last month to four years in prison for felony ethics violations.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Via Vox: “Big Data 101: Colleges are hoping predictive analytics can fix their dismal graduation rates.”

    Data, “Research,” and Reports

    Via EdSource: “Over 1 in 5 of California’s charter schools have restrictive admissions requirements or other exclusionary practices that keep out many students with the greatest academic needs, a report released Monday by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the public interest law firm Public Advocates alleges.”

    Research by Roland Fryer and Will Dobbie: “We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings.”

    Via Education Week: “Full-time virtual charter school students in Ohio perform worse academically than their peers enrolled in traditional district schools, according to a study released this week. Furthermore, virtual charter schools are dragging down the overall performance of Ohio’s charter sector, the study says – brick-and-mortar charter school students perform slightly better or slightly worse than their district school peers, depending on the subject.”

    Via The New York Times: “Study Finds Chinese Students Excel in Critical Thinking. Until College.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at a survey of international students, some of whom are reconsidering studying in the UK and writes “How Britain’s Brexit Could Benefit Universities Elsewhere.”

    Campus Technology writes up the International Data Corporation’s market latest data on tablet sales: “Worldwide Tablet Shipments Fall More Than 12 Percent in Second Quarter.”

    Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill chastises a market research company on lousy research about the LMS market.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “High levels of student debt are contributing to negative wealth – when a household’s debt is greater than its total assets – and inequality, according to an analysis of household finance data by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

    According to a report from The Education Trust, “roughly 3.6 percent of colleges and universities – 138 in all – held 75 percent of all postsecondary endowment wealth. Yet despite their vast wealth, too few of these colleges invest enough in students from low-income families.” Almost half of these schools are in the bottom 5% for enrolling first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipients. These colleges could use some of those endowment funds, Ed Trust contends, to better support low-income students.

    Tony Bates looks at a recent UNESCO report on corruption in higher ed.

    Edsurge writes aboutEntangled Solutions’ report on “mitigating conflicts of interest among the different parties that will work together under the program: alternative education providers (bootcamps), traditional higher-ed institutions, and 'quality assurance entities' (QAEs), which will evaluate the pilot programs, much like accreditation agencies evaluate colleges and universities.” The irony here is rich. Rich, I tell you. But this is how history gets rewritten and education policies get made, I suppose.

    Via Motherboard: “Fifty Percent of Mechanical Turk Workers Have College Degrees, Study Finds.”

    “The gig economy is making waves in education,” says Education Dive. “Thanks largely to the rise in virtual schools, the sector is a Top 5 industry for freelance work.” Congrats, education. Your labor policies and your notion of solidarity remain awful. Maybe someone will volunteer to write an online op-ed in a venture- or corporate-backed publication for free about this.


    One of education’s greatest luminaries passed away this week. Seymour Papert died at his home in Blue Hill, Maine on Monday. Papert, as Gary Stager has described him, was the “inventor of everything (good) in education.” He developed “constructionism,” a theory of learning based on Jean Piaget’s “constructivism”; he co-invented the programming language LOGO; he was the inspiration for Lego’s Mindstorms; he co-founded the MIT Media Lab; he’s been called the father of the “maker” movement; he authored two books that everyone in education should read: Mindstorms and The Children’s Machine (he authored more than that, but you really must read these books, particularly if you work in ed-tech); and he was a mentor and friend to many.

    More remembrances via The New York Times, NPR, Forward, The Guardian, the MIT Media Lab, and elsewhere.

    Rest in power, Seymour. You are already missed.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 08/12/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Ugandan parliament orders Bridge Academy schools closed,” according to Education International. “In a sweeping move, the for-profit school chain has been told to lock its doors after parliament demanded it halt operations in response to its failure to meet educational and infrastructure standards.” The company – funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Pearson, Learn Capital, and others – says it will remain open.

    The US Department of Education announced it was launching “a pilot to test rigorously the effectiveness of more flexible loan counseling policies on federal student loan borrowers.”

    Via The New York Times: “State Department, Citing Security, Suspends Teaching Program in Turkey.”

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Via Education Week: “Donald Trump Proposes Making Parents’ Child-Care Costs Fully Tax-Deductible.” No details on how this would actually work.

    Education in the Courts

    Via The New York Times: “Ahmed Mohamed, Boy Handcuffed for Making Clock, Is Suing.”

    Via the Dallas Morning News: “Professors who ban guns in their classrooms will be punished, UT lawyer says.”

    MIT, New York University, and Yale are being sued by employees, “accused of allowing their employees to be charged excessive fees on their retirement savings,” The New York Times reported on Tuesday. By the end of the week, additional, similar complaints had been filed by employees at Duke, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against New Mexico State University, alleging that the university paid a female former assistant track coach significantly less than her male colleagues, the department announced on Thursday.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Reuters continues its reporting on standardized testing security (or lack thereof): “ACT shakes up security unit, plans audit after cheating reports.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Unpublished SAT Exam Material Stolen, College Board Says.”

    “The Indiana Department of Education is seeking $4 million in damages from the company that created last year’s problem-plagued ISTEP test. The state blames the California-based CTB company for the scoring problems and technical glitches that led to delays in releasing last year’s test results,” says Chalkbeat.

    From the US Department of Education’s blog: “Building the Next Generation of Assessments in Education.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via the Coursera blog: “Coming soon to all courses: Flexible session-based schedules.”

    Imperial College London has joinededX.

    Education Dive makes claims about “MOOCs as tools for equity in under-resourced high schools.” Elsewhere, more claims about “the global poor” and MOOCs (and other ed-tech companies) in Edsurge.

    Remember when the World Economic Forum was super-into MOOCs? Well, now the organization is making similar-sounding predictions about Bitcoin, for what it’s worth.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    From the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education today denied a request from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE), a Utah-based chain of for-profit career colleges, to convert to non-profit status for purposes of federal financial student aid. The denial means that the colleges' programs must continue to meet requirements under the federal Gainful Employment regulations.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “An Education Department review of Ashford University’s compliance with federal financial aid rules has resulted in a fine of $137,695 for a handful of violations, Bridgepoint Education, which owns Ashford.”

    “Are coding bootcamps only for the rich?” asks Techcrunch.

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Traditional colleges including Northeastern University and Bellevue College are entering the coding boot camp market by partnering with boot camp providers or by creating their own programs.”

    General Assembly plans to expand to 10 new cities, Edsurge reports (but doesn’t mention that just a few weeks ago, the bootcamp laid off 7% of its staff).

    More on General Assembly in the “business” section below.

    Here’s a puff piece in Education Dive about the for-profit Ubiquity University.

    Via Eater: “Culinary Schools Are Getting More Expensive – Should You Go?”

    Meanwhile on Campus

    BYU is under Title IX investigation, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via the Seattle Times: “As many as 90 University of Washington students from China may have been defrauded of up to $1 million in tuition money, UW Police Department investigators said Monday.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Association of American Publishers complains about Cal State librarian who studies popularity of pirated scientific papers. Cal State defends its librarian.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Assault-Rifle Camp for Kids, Courtesy of the American Military.”

    Xavier University in Ohio will later this month become the home to the first pizza ATM in the US,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Vermont schools have more computers than students, says the Burlington Free Press.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What $500 Tuition Could Mean for 3 UNC Campuses.”

    Via Education Week: “Personalized learning pioneer Summit Public Schools is expanding its network to include 100 new schools, CEO Dianne Tavenner announced via a Facebook post today.”

    There’s more Summit Public Schools / Facebook news in the downgrades section below.

    Accreditation and Certification

    “Digital badges aren’t replacing the bachelor’s degree any time soon,” Inside Higher Ed helpfully points out. “But a growing number of colleges are working with vendors to use badges as an add-on to degrees, to help students display skills and accomplishments that transcripts fail to capture.” Smart idea, schools, to outsource one of your core functions to a vendor. Super smart.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The National Collegiate Athletic Association and five co-defendants will pay $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a Frostburg State University football player who died after suffering a head injury in 2011. Three Frostburg State staff members, helmet manufacturer Kranos Corp. and retailer George L. Heider Inc. also agreed to the settlement.”

    From the HR Department

    Linda Katehi has resigned as chancellor of UC Davis. “What Began With Pepper Spray at UC Davis Ends With a Golden Parachute,” as The Atlantic puts it.

    Chicago Public Schools has laid off some 1000 employees, including 500 teachers. Here’s my friend Xian Franzinger Barrett describing his experiences getting “the phone call.” His first child is due in a couple of months.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A member of the Board of Governors of Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, will resign following threats by the federal government to withhold student aid from the college if he stayed on the board.”

    Chris Lohse is the new head of the Education Technology Industry Network, the ed-tech division of the Software & Information and Industry Association.

    More on teacher pay in the research section below.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    It’s not a pivot; it’s “phase two,” apparently. That’s how Techcrunch describes the private school AltSchool, which now says it plans to charge $1000 per student for others to use its surveillance ed-tech software.

    “*Schoology*: The strongest LMS you’ve never seen” – according to Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill at least.

    And from his business partner Michael Feldstein: “Instructurecon 2016: Why This Company is Still Formidable (and Misunderstood).” Poor poor misunderstood LMSes.

    Facebook is out to upend the traditional student-teacher relationship,” says The New York Times in one of the worst pieces I’ve seen it write about ed-tech in a long time. “On Tuesday, Facebook and Summit Public Schools, a nonprofit charter school network with headquarters in Silicon Valley, announced that nearly 120 schools planned this fall to introduce a free student-directed learning system developed jointly by the social network and the charter schools.”

    Oh look. Another “Pinterest for education.”

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Kaltura has raised $50 million and says it plans to IPO. The video platform has raised $165.1 million total.

    Kira Talent has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Relay Ventures, BDC Capital IT Venture Fund, Globalive, and Roger Martin. The “talent acquisition” and college admissions app has raised $8.2 million total.

    Job matching company Viridis Learning has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding from Thayer Ventures, Lumina Foundation, the Carver Family Office, Serious Change, NVC Investments, Carlos Gutierrez, C.S. Park, and Ken Hicks. has raised $1.9 million from the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Omidyar Network Fund. The press release describes this as grant money, and I hope so because I’d sure hate to see VC funding from that later organization ruin a startup that higher ed folks seem to like.

    General Assembly has acquired the coding bootcamp Bitmaker.

    PowerSchool has acquiredSRB Education Solutions.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    “The University of Melbourne has moved to allay privacy concerns amid revelations it is tracking students through their wi-fi usage,” says The World Today. “The university said the practice, which looked at where people were moving around campus, helped institutions improve retention rates and the experience of students.”

    “What kinds of data do school districts release?” asks the Sunlight Foundation.

    Data and “Research”

    Via the AP: “Gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students are far more likely than their classmates to be raped or assaulted in a dating situation, according to the first national survey of its kind.”

    There are “merits” to reading paper books– “real books,” says the headline – to children, and The NYT is on it.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Employer-sponsored wellness programs are on the decline, as are benefits for part-time faculty members, according to a new study from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.”

    “Teachers of math and English/language arts in states following the common-core standards are playing a strong role in developing or selecting the classroom resources they use,” according to a RAND Corporation report.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new national survey finds that student debt has an impact on how people view relationship potential.” Debt is “baggage,” apparently.

    Via EdSource: “Pay for teachers has stagnated nationally over the past two decades, and fallen behind earnings of other workers with college degrees, the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank, concluded in a report released Tuesday.” But Atlschool's fouder thinks schools are gonna pay $1000 per student for some creepy software. Right.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 08/19/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    One of the big stories this week: the US Department of Education’s announcement about which “non-traditional providers” (MOOCs, coding bootcamps) will be eligible for financial aid as part of its EQUIP experiment. More details in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Via ProPublica: “New Jersey lawmakers have announced a series of measures addressing student debt issues this week, including one bill aimed at reforming the state’s controversial student loan program.” Currently, the state’s loan program does not offer any reprieve for borrowers who are unemployed or face financial struggles.

    From the press release: “U.S. Department of Education Awards $300,000 to Wounded Knee District School on Pine Ridge Reservation Following Multiple Student Suicides.”

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Former President Bill Clinton received $1.1 million in payments from the for-profit college operator Laureate Education in 2015, according to tax returns released by the Hillary Clinton campaign Friday.”

    Via the AP: “No evidence Trump provided child care services for employees.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Oklahoma Wesleyan University is joining a former University of Virginia student’s lawsuit challenging the Title IX guidance of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, according to court documents filed Monday.”

    More on a court case filed by former student athletes against the NCAA and UNC in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Via Politico: “The Army wants you… to use its test prep program. That's right, the Army has a standardized test preparation program that includes seven free ACT and SAT practice exams. It's rolling out a social media push today using the hashtag #DontSettle4Cs to promote the program, called March2Success. It includes self-paced tutoring focused heavily on English and math that can be monitored by a teacher or parent, and has been used by 1.7 million people since 2003.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Coursera’s Daphne Koller announced in a blog post that she’s leaving the MOOC company she co-founded to work at a Alphabet (a.k.a. Google) biotech company, Calico. (Coursera’s other founder, Andrew Ng, left the startup several years ago to join the Chinese search engine Baidu. And Sebastian Thrun, who founded the rival Udacity, has left his startup and is rumored to be back in the self-driving car business.) Viva la MOOC revolution, I guess, which Koller credits herself and these others for starting out of the AI lab in Stanford. See also: “MOOCs and the Mythological Promise” by Rolin Moe.

    Teach for AmericajoinsedX.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    The US Department of Education has selected eight higher ed institutions and eight “non-traditional providers” that will work as partners to pilot the DoE’s new EQUIP experiment, meaning that students will be able to receive federal financial aid for coding bootcamps, MOOCs, and the like. Each partner has a “quality assurance entity” (one of which is Entangled Solutions, a venture fund run by Paul Freedman, who was investigated by the Justice Department regarding a partnership between his for-profit company and a university. Seems like solid oversight!) More on the news via the usual suspects: The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Edsurge. Good thing there haven’t been any problems with for-profit higher ed and exploitation of financial aid, otherwise this would all seem like a terrible idea.

    Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies,” says The Wall Street Journal in a story that contains this gem:

    Google, which has hired workers from Flatiron and other academies, recently studied the efficacy of coding camps. The company found that while the camps have shown promise, most of their graduates weren’t prepared for software engineering without additional training or prior experience, Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, said in an email.

    “Can You Buy a New Job?” asks Bloomberg, with an interview with General Assembly’s Jake Schwartz.

    OK, it’s not a coding bootcamp. (OR IS IT!?) But via The LA Times: “In Santa Monica, parents are paying $1,000 for a boot camp to get their kids ready for kindergarten.”

    Brooks Institute, once owned by Career Education Corporation, will close this fall.

    For more on accreditation and for-profits, see the accreditation section below. For more research on for-profits, see the research section below. For more on venture capital investments in for-profits, see the funding section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    How often are students tasered at school? We don’t know. From the Huffington Post, a look at school police taser policies/practices and their effects on students: “Set to Stun.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In 2005, a court barred Vanderbilt from removing ‘Confederate’ from the facade of a building, citing the terms of a gift. The university is returning the gift at today’s value – and will now remove the word.”

    “Despite the lack of a formal announcement, Columbia’s Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence was closed and many of its programs discontinued this summer,” the Columbia Chronicle reports.

    University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart is asking for an independent investigation into allegations of misuse of public funds by the university’s health-sciences leadership,” according to the Arizona Daily Star.

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools this week said it will decide whether or not to sanction ITT Technical Institutes after a hearing scheduled for December, according to a federal filing from ITT.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via the AP: “A federal judge has granted the NCAA’s motion to dismiss the governing body from a lawsuit filed by two former North Carolina athletes seeking to hold it at least partly responsible for the school’s long-running academic fraud scandal.”

    Clemson’s Football Team Is Getting a Nap Room and a Lot of Other Stuff,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “In a risky and expensive endeavor, colleges are spending more and more money on athletics in hopes of earning a spot among the Power Five conferences,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Pacific Standard: “Here’s More Evidence That Not All College Sports Are Created Equal.”

    From the HR Department

    Via the Washington Post: “In Utah, schools can now hire teachers with no training whatsoever.”

    UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks will resign. Meanwhile: “As UC Berkeley prepared to eliminate hundreds of jobs and take millions of dollars in loans to help balance its flagging budget, the campus also paid more than $200,000 to ‘improve the chancellor’s strategic profile nationally and internationally,’” writes The San Francisco Chronicle.

    After laying off 1000 employees last week, the Chicago Public Schools is now looking to hire– you guessed it – 1000 teachers.

    How 37 States Are Handling Teacher Shortages” by Dan Meyer.

    Upgrades and Downgrades will end its operations next week. Just goes to show what an angry billionaire libertarian can do to destroy a free press. (Enjoy your Thiel Fellowship, fellows.)

    Via the Stanford Social Innovation Review: “Unintended Consequences.” The story of how Inigral (later Uversity) was “steered into trouble” by taking strategic investment from the Gates Foundation. (It also received funding from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Edsurge reposted the article, but didn’t add a disclosure about its own financial relationship to the Gates Foundation or that it was co-founded by a VP of Inigral.)

    Prison ed tech takes off,” Cisco says with a dollar-signs-in-eyeballs sort of excitement.

    Various updates from Google: The company is “killing Google Hangouts on Air,” says The Verge. Via Edsurge: “Google Offers Free Cloud Access to Colleges, Plays Catch Up to Amazon, Microsoft.” And via the Google blog, news of more features added to the company’s pseudo-LMS. (Rafranz Davis has a good blog post on the uncritical reception of ed-tech brands and why some of these new features involve “errors in innovation.” Highlights of her post include a white guy from Google calling her out on Twitter for speaking her mind. Nice job there, Googler.)

    Something something flipped classroom something something. Innovation!

    Personalized CliffNotes” pretty much sums up the state of ed-tech in 2016.

    Via Techcrunch: “Spotify launches a new Kids category with a focus on learning activities, language development.”

    Social-emotional learning and VR. Because Stanford. (And because Edsurge.)

    The latest on the LMS market – this one on D2Lfrom Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Via Slate: “Forgiving All Student Loan Debt Would Be an Awful, Regressive Idea.”

    Amazon is opening a new pickup location at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

    Via Technode: “This Startup Is Using WeChat Chatbots To Scale English Learning.” (“This startup” is Rikai Labs.)

    Via Education Week: “Brain Imaging Eyed as Path to Better Education Software.”

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    Coding bootcamp Galvanize has raised $45 million in Series B funding from ABS Capital Partners, Colorado Impact Fund, Haystack Partners, Greg Maffei, Aspen Grove Capital, and University Ventures. It’s raised $63 million total.

    Degreed has raised $3.5 million in Series B funding from GSV Accelerator, Jump Capital, Rethink Education, and Signal Peak Ventures. This brings to $33.3 million total raised by the startup.

    Coding bootcamp Byte Academy has raised $2.67 million in funding from Tri5 Ventures.

    Cialfo has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Govin Capital and Koh Boon Hwee. The college admissions app has previously raised $800,000.

    Testing startup Gradopedia has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from an undisclosed list of investors.

    Publisher John Wiley & Sons will acquireAtypon, a publishing software company, for $120 million.

    Certica Solutions has acquiredEducuity.

    Guardian Capital Partners has acquiredCarson-Dellosa Publishing LLC from Birch Hill Equity Partners.

    Data and “Research”

    Via Babson College: “95 Percent of Entrepreneurs Worldwide Finance Their Own Startups. Only 0.16 percent of U.S. small businesses received venture capital in 2015.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Study Finds More Faculty Diversity at Public Institutions Than at Private Ones.”

    “‘Clickbait’-esque titles work for academic papers too,” says Boing Boing.

    Via The New York Times: “Last year’s law school graduates landed fewer jobs in private practice than any class in the last two decades, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which tracks developments in the legal profession.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “U.K. report on for-profit colleges in six countries finds few benefits of sector and calls for tighter regulation, while acknowledging lack of data makes it hard to set rules.” From the report, “relative to the public sector, the quality of provision, especially in the for-profits, is often found wanting, while tuition fees are usually higher.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    Maha Bali has written a blog post asking why we talk about “a domain of one’s own” and “reclaim your domain” since people never really own their domains. They merely rent them, she points out.

    My understanding of ownership is that something belongs to me. That I have already acquired it or been gifted it. And I own it until I die, no additional payment required. If I own it and I die, it passes to my heirs.

    It’s a fair point. One pays a fee for the right to register (and renew) a domain name for a website; one likely also pays a fee to a company that hosts the files for that website so that it is accessible over the network. One pays a fee to access the network. These fees must all be paid monthly or annually to maintain access and functionality.

    The “domain of one’s own” isn’t owned; it’s leased, Maha contends. But when one controls – albeit temporarily – a domain name and a bit of server space, I contend, we act in resistance to an Internet culture and an Internet technology and an Internet business model in which we control little to nothing. We own little to nothing.

    Increasingly, we work for free for major Internet technology companies, on their platforms. We post our photos, our status updates, our articles, our discussions. We share, we like, and we retweet. Our content and our data, shared publicly, become theirs to profit from.

    Shared in public, none of this is public in terms of ownership, let’s be clear; this is almost entirely private infrastructure. Thus, our rights are always already limited; and any notion of “ownership” that we might have based on physical property does not necessarily extend to the digital.

    Nonetheless I don’t think that the Domain of One’s Own initiative is mislabeled, as Maha implies in her post.

    I want to dig a little deeper into both the etymology of the phrase “domain of one’s own,” the meaning of the words “own” and “ownership,” and the legalities and practicalities of the latter in particular in a digital world.

    A student must have a domain of her own if she is to write...

    The University of Mary Washington’s initiative, “Domain of One’s Own,” is phrased thusly as a nod to Virginia Woolf’s essay “A Room of One’s Own,” in which she famously quipped that “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” We can critique – and certainly we should – the class implications and expectations in Woolf’s commandment here; and we must consider both the financial burden and the transaction mechanism of a push for domains in education – as Maha notes, for example, many students in Egypt don’t have a credit card with which to make online purchases.

    “Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days,” Woolf wrote in 1929. (That 500 quid is the equivalent to about $37,000 when adjusted for inflation.) But Woolf is not simply talking about having a piece of paper – a title, for example – that decrees she owns the room. It’s about having the financial freedom and a personal space to write.

    To own is to possess. To own is to have authority and control. To own is to acknowledge. It implies a responsibility. Ownership is a legal designation; but it’s something more than that too. It’s something more and then, without legal protection, the word also means something less.

    University of Mary Washington professor Debra Schleef recently wrote about a Domain of One’s Own Book Club at UMW, making explicit the connections between Woolf and the domains initiative at the school and asking,

    What does it mean, both literally and figuratively, to have a room of one’s own? Woolf’s room with a lock, and resources (the famous “500 pounds a year,” but also education, time, and access) provides a place within which the figurative can flower. Similarly, a domain is more than a delimited internet space with your name on it – it is a figurative room that provides time, creative license, and a space to express oneself freely. Part of our discussion revolved around what people are most lacking that prevents them from fully using their domains. The time and space to write? Or is it something deeper than that – the need for a place to write and create without fear?

    Ownership in a Subscription Economy

    What does it mean to “own” a digital good – a domain name or otherwise? This strikes me as an incredibly important question for society (for students) to wrestle with, and it’s a question that is made explicit through the Domain of One’s Own initiative.

    What do you own? Your degree? Your ideas? Your work? Are you sure? Have you read the fine print of the Terms of Service?

    What data and/or content can you take with you when you finish a class or when you graduate? And what can you, as Maha frames it, pass along to your heirs when you die?

    Of course, we might ask how these questions – all questions – about ownership are already shaped by the government and by banks, both of whom can readily seize the materials items in our possession. Then too, how are these questions reshaped by new technologies? Are we already predisposed to expect such seizures?

    When it comes to all our digital data, the answer to the question “what do you own” is probably “not much.” You do not own your Amazon Kindle books; you’ve purchased a license to access the content. Your heirs will not inherit your digital reading library. You do not own the music you stream; you’ve paid for a subscription. Your heirs will not inherit your digital music library. You don’t own the movies you watch via Netflix; again, it’s a subscription and unlike a print magazine subscription, once you stop paying the bill, you won’t have stacks of old copies lying about. If you’re using proprietary file formats for your data or there are DRM restrictions on your content, it’s quite likely your heirs will be unable to open the files to even look at what they contain so as to judge if any of your bits and bytes are worth saving. You (likely) do not own the software you use (unless it’s open source); it’s been licensed to you. Similarly, you (likely) do not own the operating system that powers your computer; you’ve paid for a license there as well. And increasingly, there are restrictions with what you can do with the computer hardware as well as the software that you might think is yours because it is in your possession – but as Cory Doctorow argues, “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.”

    How do we resist this? (And resist this, I contend, we must.) How do we help people understand the fragility of their digital data, the gnawing away at ownership and at (individual and collective) memory and at individual and institutional legacy that the “Silicon Valley narrative” tends to exalt?

    In part, I think we resist through education; we help students and scholars understand how new digital technologies work, how these technologies shape and reshape and are shaped by culture, politics, money, and law.

    In part. In part.

    The False Promises of an “Ownership Society”

    President George W. Bush once exulted an “ownership society,” a promise for all Americans, he said. I think we know such a thing as an “ownership society” has never existed for all of us. Nor has, to be fair, the ability to have "a room of one's own." But Bush made this phrase – “ownership society,” – a cornerstone of his policies circa 2003–4 as he cut taxes. Americans would and could and should own their own house, he argued. They would and could and should be responsible for their own medical insurance. They would and could and should be responsible for their retirement savings. They would and could and should have to pay for their own education.

    The cornerstone of an “ownership society” is privatization. The cornerstone is a dismantling of public infrastructure. Costs and risks are thus transferred to the individual.

    And now, we’re told – after all the subprime mortgage crisis, the student loan debt crisis and on and on and on – we have moved to a “post-ownership society.” It’s all still heavily privatized, but now you own nothing. You just rent. You just borrow. You just subscribe. You just share. You owe, not own. You work, but part-time. You work, but freelance. Everything is contingent; all aspects of life, now precarious. But you’re free… You’re free from owning.

    So yes, it’s certainly worth asking: does “Domain of One’s Own” transfer costs and risks – as both the ownership and the post-ownership society would like to sell us on – to the individual? I’m not so sure it does, or at least that it does in the same way as Bush's vision of an “ownership society”. It seems, rather, that the rest of ed-tech – the LMS, adaptive learning software, predictive analytics, surveillance tech through and through – is built on an ideology of data extraction, outsourcing, and neoliberalism. But the Web – and here I mean the Web as an ideal, to be sure, and less the Web in reality – has a stake in public scholarship and public infrastructure. Indeed, I’d contend that many of the educational technologies that schools have chosen to adopt in lieu of the Web, in lieu of projects like Domain of One’s Own, help further this Uber-ification of education, in which everything we do now is trackable, extractable, and monetizable by other platforms, by private, for-profit companies.

    How do we resist this? (And resist this, I contend, we must.) We resist through education. Yes. But we also must resist at the level of structure, at the level of systems, at the level of infrastructure. We can challenge how the Web and the Internet work – at the level of politics, power, money, and technology. But we can do so only if we understand what’s at stake, if we understand that the Web and the Internet are not naturally-occurring entities but are corporate and national forces bending towards certain ideological ends – privatization and profit.

    “A Domain of One’s Own,” which operates at the level of infrastructure, at the level of literary analysis, at the level of literacy, at the level of feminism (a flawed feminism, to be sure, with its early twentieth century British heritage) and at the level of technology (a flawed technology, to be sure, with its imperialist, militarist heritage) is just one way for us to build forward, to build better public practices around scholarship. I’m not sure that “ownership” is the wedge I want to use to argue for this project; but I am certain that “post-ownership,” where we all just “share” and “rent” on the powerful platforms of Silicon Valley billionaires, is far from a satisfactory alternative. When I call for each of us to have a domain of our own, I’m not really invoking “ownership” in the way in which Maha suggests the "Domain of One's Own" initiative implies; but I am, I do confess, invoking Virginia Woolf and the importance having the space and safety and security (financially well before technologically) to think and write and be.

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  • 08/26/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    “Members of Congress are in an unusual position as they demand an explanation for Mylan NV's 400 percent price hike for the EpiPen and focus attention squarely on its CEO: Heather Bresch,” Bloomberg reports. Bresch, whose father is a senator from West Virginia, had successfully lobbied to have Epipens, which contain life-saving anti-allergy medication, be purchased by public schools. Bresch had previously been involved in another education-related scandal when, in 2007, it was revealed she had been awarded an MBA by West Virginia University even though she’d only completed half of the required credits.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican in a tight re-election battle, says quality documentaries could replace many instructors, and blames tenured professors for preserving the ‘higher education cartel.’” Ken Burns disagrees.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Top U.S. Higher-Education Official Says Innovation Will Best Serve the ‘New Normal’ Students.” (Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill has a response to Ted Mitchell’s claim that the College Scoreboard was on of the administration’s big higher ed wins: “College Scorecard: With victories like these, who needs failures?”)

    “Legislation to Reclaim University Invention from the Trolls” from the EFF.

    Via the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has reached an agreement with the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE), settling the litigation involving the Department’s claim of South Carolina’s failure to maintain state financial support for special education and related services.”

    Via the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that the Lodi Unified School District in Lodi, California, has entered into a resolution agreement to end the racially discriminatory impact of the district’s discipline policies and address concerns that it disciplines African-American students more harshly than white students.”

    More press releases from the Department of Education in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Education in the Courts

    Via NPR: “In a major victory for teachers unions in California, the state Supreme Court has upheld teacher tenure laws. By a 4–3 vote, a divided court decided not to hear Vergara vs. California, a case challenging state tenure laws.” More via Sherman Dorn and The LA Times.

    Wells Fargo to Pay $4 Million to Settle Student-Loan Servicing Probe,” says The Wall Street Journal. Did anyone mention that this is the bank that Amazon has partnered with for its new student loan program? (Me, I guess.)

    Via NPR: “Months after the Obama administration advised school districts that transgender students should be given access to bathrooms based on their gender identity, a federal judge in Texas has blocked the guidance from going into effect – for now.” More via The Atlantic.

    Later in the week… Via the AP: “Texas and four other Republican-led states filed another lawsuit Tuesday seeking to roll back the Obama administration’s efforts to strengthen transgender rights, saying new federal nondiscrimination health rules could force doctors to act contrary to their medical judgment or religious beliefs.”

    “A federal judge on Monday denied a request by three faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin for a preliminary injunction to keep concealed guns out of their classrooms,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via the Columbus Dispatch: “A Franklin County judge rejected arguments from the Department of Education that the state’s largest online charter school prematurely sued the state over an ongoing attendance audit.” That state: Ohio.

    For more on charters in Ohio, see Sunday night’s segment from John Oliver, detailed in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.

    Via Education Week: “The founder and former CEO of an online public school that educates thousands of Pennsylvania students pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal tax fraud, acknowledging he siphoned more than $8 million from The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School through for-profit and nonprofit companies he controlled.” The CEO in question: Nicholas Trombetta.

    Via the Chiago Sun Times: “A suburban father and son accused in 2014 of scamming public school districts out of millions – only to post diamonds and rubies to get out of jail – pleaded guilty Tuesday to mail fraud. Jowhar Soultanali, 61, of Morton Grove, and his son, Kabir Kassam, 37, of Wheeling, each face a maximum of 20 years in prison after admitting to U.S. District Judge James Zagel they broke the law. An attorney also entered guilty pleas for the pair’s Niles-based tutoring businesses, Brilliance Academy Inc. and Babbage Net School Inc.”

    Via Ebony: “A federal judge ruled Monday that the process of electing school board members for a district that includes Ferguson, Missouri, is biased against black voters and must be revised before another election will be allowed.”

    More lawsuit news in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Common Core test scores released and California’s scores were up a little bit, Connecticut’s were up a little bit more, and Maryland’s were better in math. But many students still aren’t “college ready” based on their scores.

    Via The Texas Tribune: “The Texas Education Agency is penalizing the New Jersey-based company that develops and administers the state’s controversial STAAR tests – to the tune of $20.7 million – over widespread logistical and technical issues reported with the spring administration, Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced Tuesday.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Average ACT scores are down this year. ACT officials attribute the drop to the increasing percentage of high school seniors who have taken the test.”

    Education Week on opt-outs: “Education leaders in states where resistance to taking annual exams remains strong are bracing for penalties that the U.S. Department of Education could send down in the coming months for falling short of testing enough qualified students last school year.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    “Why America’s MOOC pioneers have abandoned ship” by Jonathan Rees.

    MOOCs Are Dead. Long Live Online Higher Education,” Phil Hill pronounces.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    From the press release: “The U.S. Department of Education today took a series of actions to protect students and taxpayers by banning ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT) from enrolling new students using federal financial aid funds, and stepping up financial oversight of the for-profit educational provider.” More from Angus Johnston, Inside Higher Ed, and John Warner.

    Via The LA Times: “Insurer pays $13.5 million to resolve federal claims over defunct Marinello beauty school.”

    Meanwhile on Campus

    “The University of Chicago is attacking academic freedom,” says New Republic’s Jeet Heer. The school’s dean of students, has sent a letter to the freshman class saying that,

    Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

    John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight took on charter schools. Predictable responses were predictable. Following the broadcast, Robert Pondiscio wrote an op-ed for US News arguing that this all reveals “How Education Reform Lost Its Mojo.”

    Elsewhere in charters, via the East Bay Times: “On the first day of school, more than 500 new students swarmed into Livermore public schools, the vast majority fleeing the city’s two embattled charter schools in light of a litany of accusations ranging from fiscal mismanagement to criminal wrongdoing.” The schools in question: Livermore Valley Charter School and Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory, both run by Tri-Valley Learning Corp.

    Via The Washington Post: “Parents at a high-achieving Washingtoncharter school say their children are not being offered physical education classes despite a law that requires the city’s schools to make such classes available to all students.” The charter in question: BASIS DC.

    The New York Times on recent resolutions by the NAACP and by the Movement for Black Lives: “Condemnation of Charter Schools Exposes a Rift Over Black Students.”

    Via Politico: “Roughly 70,000 Louisiana school children remain out of school because of flooding, and state Superintendent John White tells Morning Education that students in three districts won’t likely be back in class until after Labor Day.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Stanford Bans Hard Liquor From Undergraduate Parties.”

    Sex toys, not guns. Via The New York Times: “University of Texas Students Find the Absurd in a New Gun Law.” More on the campus carry law in the courts section above.

    Via The LA Times: “Herb Alpert Foundation to donate $10.1 million to LACC– making studies for music majors tuition-free.” (Would that all big donations like this go to community colleges and not elite private schools.)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Gunmen Attack American U. in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 12 People.”

    Via Quartz: “Harvey Mudd College took on gender bias and now more than half its computer-science majors are women.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Good School, Rich School; Bad School, Poor School –The inequality at the heart of America's education system.”

    I can’t think of anything I loathe more about back-to-school each year than the release of the Beloit College Mindset list. Here’s the latest one for the Class of 2020.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Citing concerns about North Carolina‘s controversial ’bathroom bill,’ the University of Vermont has canceled a scheduled women’s basketball game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

    Via The Seattle Times: “Bellevue football parents, ex-booster club file lawsuit to overturn sanctions.”

    From the HR Department

    “In Victory for Union Efforts, NLRB Rules Columbia U. Grad Students Are Employees,” reads The Chronicle of Higher Education headline (and then the publication spent much of the week fearmongering about the implications). Via Undercommoning: “The NLRB Columbia Decision and the Future of Academic Labor Struggles.” And the struggle will continue as Columbia will likely appeal.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday ruled that instructors of religious studies may be excluded from part-time faculty unions at two Roman Catholic institutions.” The universities: St. Xavier University and Seattle University.

    “Coding Startup Treehouse Trims Staff to ‘Cross the Chasm to Profitability’,” Edsurge reports. 21% of the staff were laid off from the company, which has raised $12.35 million in funding. More from founder Ryan Carson.

    Ken Starr Resigns Faculty Position at Baylor,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    “The CEO of a Pennsylvania charter school is resigning after a mailer promoting the school mentioned a 2015 drug arrest at a nearby public high school,” Education Week reports. The CEO: Loraine Petrillo. The charter: Innovative Arts Academy Charter School.

    Via The New York Times: “Firing of Teacher Battling Cancer Prompts an Outcry in China.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    From the venture capital firm Charles River Ventures (with education investments including NoRedInk, the Flatiron School, and Wonder Workshop), a fellowship program to pay for startup founders’ visa:

    Goldman Sachs, according to The New York Times, will now offer loans“for the little guy,” whatever the hell that means. (Other than "the little guy" getting screwed over, of course.)

    It’s back-to-school product refresh time: Techcrunch on new features for Newsela. Edsurge on new features for Remind (which are ostensibly a “path to revenue”).

    The Verge offers its “Back to School Guide 2016,” which includes a $235 backpack and a $42 mug if you need an example of how woefully out-of-touch tech journalists can be.

    Via Techcrunch: “Amazon launches the Kindle Reading Fund to expand digital reading around the world.”

    Via Fast Company: “How Became A Pop Culture Phenomenon.” Spoiler alert: by pivoting away from ed-tech.

    Via Education Week: “Parent Advocacy Group Warns of Ed-Tech ‘Threats’.”

    Via PC World: “Why Google plans to stop supporting your Chromebook after five years.”

    Farsight Security looks at who has dot edu domains. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty common for non-US / non-universities to have them.

    “Can Marketing Automation Bring College Enrollment Numbers Up?” asks Edsurge. Interesting question considering that shady marketing practices are among the reasons that for-profit schools like ITT – see the for-profit higher ed section above – are getting sued and sanctioned by the government.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    “Mark Zuckerberg Sells $95 Million Worth Of Facebook Shares For Charity,” says The Huffington Post. Except it’s not a charity. It’s for the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, a for-profit investment vehicle.

    Kobe Bryant. Ed-tech investor.

    InCred has raised $75 million from Anshu Jain (co-chairman of the management board at Deutsche Bank), Bhupinder Singh, and Ranjan Pai. The Mumbai-based company offers loans – consumer loans, education loans, and the like.

    The chillingly named Panopto has raised $42.8 million from Sterling Partners and Square 1 Bank. The video capture platform has raised $48.46 million total.

    Redshelf has raised $4 million from Coniston Capital and the National Association of College Stores. The digital textbook company has raised $7 million total.

    The Omidyar Network has invested $3 million in Khan Academy. (The funding is labeled as a grant.)

    Khan Academy has used that funding to acquire the kids’ app maker Duck Duck Moose.

    Makkajai has raised $200,000 in seed funding from Anand Chandrasekaran, Ananth Narayanan, and Mekin Maheshwari.

    Kendall Hunt Publishing has acquiredRCL Benziger. Terms were not disclosed.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    Bored with Pokemon Go? Try this exciting new app to “catch ’em all” and participate in a mainstreaming of surveillance culture: a mobile app for finding bank robbers, built by the FBI.

    Via the BBC: “University hit 21 times in one year by ransomware.” The university: Bournemouth, which apparently has a cybersecurity centre.

    California district embraces wearable tech in the classroom,” says Education Dive. The district: The Tustin Unified School District. The surveillance and privacy questions: brushed off.

    Via The Guardian: “Facebook’s new app for teens is ‘always public and viewable by everyone’.”

    Bill Fitzgerald on “Students and Social Media.”

    Via The Trade: “Industry worried about confidentiality of blockchain.” I lol’d.

    Data and “Research”

    21 states still allow corporal punishment. “[M]ore than 109,000 students were paddled, swatted, or otherwise physically punished in U.S. classrooms in 2013–14, according to Education Week Research Center analyses of the most recent wave of federal civil rights data.” Black students are disproportionately more likely to experience physical punishment than white students.

    Via NPR: “Research On Tulsa’s Head Start Program Finds Lasting Gains.”

    Edutechnica has new data on LMS trends, including installations and migrations.

    Via Edsurge: “Why Your Financial Advisor Doesn’t Recommend Edtech Stocks.” And yet, the money still flows to the sector…

    Via ProPublica: “Median Income Is Down, But Public College Tuition Is Way Up.”

    Paying Tuition With Credit Cards Is Costly,” according to a study reported by Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Education Week’s Market Brief: “Public Woefully Misunderstands Education Spending, Study Finds.” Why, it’s almost like there’s a huge failure in education journalism or something…

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 09/02/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via Education Week: “Maine Gov. Paul LePage has called for a review of his state’s groundbreaking 1-to–1 student computing initiative, highlighting the growing pains nagging an educational-technology movement now well into its second decade.”

    Via the Huffington Post: “On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared via executive order that beginning in September 2017, the Maryland school year won’t start until after Labor Day– a decision that prompted sharp criticism from school leaders, who are accusing Hogan of favoring the tourism industry over education.” I mean, paying for air conditioning in schools would just be a bridge too far.

    Via The New York Times: “Broadband Law Could Force Rural Residents Off Information Superhighway.” The headline should, perhaps, read “laws,” as it’s currently restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that are curbing city-run Internet service providers who are reaching customers in areas that corporate providers won’t go.

    Via Mother Jones: “How the Justice Department Is Trying to Dismantle Georgia’s Segregated Special-Education System.”

    Presidential Campaign Politics

    Hillary Clinton has named Rohit Chopra to her transition team. Chopra worked at the CFPB and, while there, “sued two for-profit-college companies – ITT Educational Services Inc. and Corinthian Colleges Inc. – over accusations about abusive lending practices,” as The Chronicle of Higher Education notes.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Hillary Clinton’s plan to eliminate public college tuition for families with incomes up to $125,000 would lift enrollment at two- and four-year public institutions by between 9 and 22 percent – in part by draining as many as 15 percent of students away from private nonprofit colleges, a new analysis predicts.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via the San Francisco Chronicle: “A federal judge refused Friday to block California’s new vaccination law, which requires children in public and private schools to be inoculated against 10 contagious illnesses and eliminates an exemption based on their parents' personal beliefs.”

    “Three months after the former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail for sexual assault, he was released on Friday,” NPR reports.

    “The Federal Trade Commission on Friday filed a complaint against the academic journal publisher OMICS Group and two of its subsidiaries, saying the publisher deceives scholars and misrepresents the editorial rigor of its journals,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The lawsuit contends that the publisher is “predatory” because it charges scholars to have their work published in open-access journals.

    Via Ars Technica: “AT&T’s throttling victory may hinder FTC’s power to protect consumers.” It’s now unclear, observers say, if the FTC can regulate companies like Google or Verizon.

    Via Education Week: “A judge has ruled against the Detroit school district in its lawsuit against two teachers involved in teacher sickouts. The district failed to meet its burden of proof and interpreted a state law in a way that is ‘offensive to fundamental rights of free speech,’ the judge said.”

    Via The Atlantic: “A Federal Judge’s Ruling Against North Carolina’s HB2.”

    Via SFGate: “Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle is suing his victim’s parents.”

    More court cases and legal decisions in the testing section and in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    A Reuters exclusive, a story in a long line of investigative reporting by Reuters on the testing industry’s security problems: “FBI raids home of ex-College Board official in probe of SAT leak.”

    Via the AP: “A judge ruled Friday that school districts [in Florida] can’t hold 3rd graders back just because they score badly on a mandated standardized reading test, saying that classroom grades and teacher evaluations have to be considered.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Kaplan Will Offer Free Online PSAT Prep.”

    “Two assessment companies – Educational Testing Service and Data Recognition Corp.– are the latest to have incurred the wrath of state education officials, who blame them for problems that played out on their states’ exams,” Education Week reports. The states in question: Texas and Nevada.

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Just a few weeks after Daphne Koller’s announcement she was leaving the MOOC startup she co-founded, Coursera unveiled “Coursera for Business” this week, marking its pivot from “democratizing higher ed” to “training corporate employees.” More via Techcrunch.

    (More on Coursera and certification in the certification section below.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Humans, the Latest MOOC Feature.” Carl Straumsheim writes that “One of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s most popular massive open online courses is adding a feature not seen in any of its other humanities MOOCs: instructors grading essays.” Of course, you have to pay $300 for this “features.”

    “Can Startup College Minerva Reinvent The Ivy League Model For The Digital Age?” asks Fast Company. (I’m guessing that Minerva is knocking on doors, trying to raise more venture capital. These sorts of puff pieces written by tech-friendly journalists often precede a funding announcement.)

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    ITT Tech Might Be Shutting Down, Like, Today,” Gizmodo published this morning. Earlier this week, the for-profit chain halted all enrollments. This comes after last week's decision by the Department of Education that the school could no longer utilize federal financial aid. Via Inside Higher Ed: “With ITT Tech headed toward possible collapse, its students begin weighing whether to transfer or to seek to have their federal loans forgiven.”

    “Crackdown on For-Profit Colleges May Free Students and Trap Taxpayers,” The New York Times frets.

    Code Fellows has received approval from the VA and the Washington state government to accept GI Bill funds for its coding bootcamp.

    The Center for Excellence in Higher Education, which owns a chain of career colleges, is suing the Department of Education, The New York Times reports, “accusing education officials of pursuing a political agenda. The suit argues that the department is trying to put the colleges out of business by failing to classify them as nonprofit educational institutions, curbing their access to federal student aid dollars.”

    More data on military enrollment in for-profits in the “research” section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus

    Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past,” says The New York Times, including offering preferential admission status – like the children of alumna already receive – for descendants of slaves owned by the university. Reparations? Nope, not according to Tressie McMillan Cottom, which she says must contain three components: “acknowledgement, restitution, and closure.” See also: Adrienne Green in The Atlantic who writes that the move by Georgetown still “falls short.”

    Via Mic: “Pretoria Girls High School students are protesting racist hair policy, code of conduct.”

    “Investigation Finds Phillips Andover Faculty Engaged in Sexual Misconduct With Students,” The New York Times reports.

    The destruction of CUNY continues. Via The New York Times: “$76 Where There Should Be $600,000: Missing City College Donation Prompts Inquiry.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Campuses With Child-Care Centers Are on the Decline, Report Says.”

    Via The New York Times: “Lead Tests on New York City Schools’ Water May Have Masked Scope of Risk.”

    This week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: “Can a Private Company Teach Troubled Kids?” The story, in The Atlantic, looks at the Richmond Alternative School in Virginia which will now be run by Camelot Education.

    Via The Washington Post: “Meet the parents who won’t let their children study literature.”

    Salesforce on Thursday announced a donation of $8.5 million to San Francisco and Oakland schools to support computer science education,” Edsurge reports. “The San Francisco-based software company will continue a four-year partnership with San Francisco Unified School District. Of the $8.5 million, $6 million goes to San Francisco and $2.5 million goes to Oakland Unified School District.”

    Berkeley Suspends Its ‘Global Campus’ Because of Budget Deficit,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via The New York Times: “Victim in New Hampshire Prep School‘Senior Salute’ Case Speaks Out.” That’s a euphemism there for “sexual assault.”

    “Some of England’s most prestigious universities are considering whether to opt out of the teaching excellence framework,” according to the Times Higher Education. The framework demands that schools be assessed “according to their performance on student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment, as well as through institutional submissions.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    When Coursera announced its pivot to corporate training, it boasted that its certificates were the second most frequently listed on LinkedIn. Here’s the Top 100 list, for what it’s worth. Number 1? No surprise, it’s the certificate offered by LinkedIn-owner Microsoft. Microsoft first launched these in 1992, but let’s all pretend like the learn-to-code alt-certification thing is brand new.

    Via Edsurge: “Unity Brings Game-Development Certification to Higher Ed.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has taken note of turmoil at the University of Louisville, saying in a recent letter a Board of Trustees overhaul appears to put the university out of compliance with standards.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Penn State To Honor Joe Paterno Before Temple Game,” according to Onward State. From Boing Boing: “Paterno was fired in 2011 after it emerged that during his tenure, [assistant coach] Jerry Sandusky had assaulted dozens of youngsters in his care. Sandusky was ultimately convicted on 45 separate charges. Though Paterno claimed to have been ignorant of his actions – pretending at one point not even to know what ‘sodomy’ means – it later emerged he knew of Sandusky’s activities since the 1970s.” This is so offensive, I'm not sure what to say. But hey, at least Paterno never sat down for the National Anthem, amirite.

    Via Boing Boing: “Texas high school football stadium to cost $70 million.”

    From the HR Department

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Faculty Lockout Expected at Long Island U Brooklyn.” Via Emily Drabinski: “Spread the Word! Part-time job ads are for replacement workers!”

    Inside Higher Ed highlightsanti-union university websites from the likes of Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. In other anti-union bullshit from people you should never listen to: “Grad student unionization will negatively impact credit,” says Moody’s.

    “Despite Vergara Ruling, Teacher-Tenure Battles Set to Heat Up,” says Education Week.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    From Sara Goldrick-Rab: “The FAST Fund,” a grassroots effort to meet the emergency financial needs of college students. (I donated. There were definitely times during my college career where I was only able to pull through because of this sort of generosity from others.) More on this effort from Tressie McMillan Cottom, who’s joined the organization’s board.

    Via The New York Times: “SpaceX Rocket Explodes at Launchpad in Cape Canaveral.” Among its cargo: a Facebook/ satellite that was supposed to provide Internet access Facebook to African countries.

    “Digital learning systems now charge students for access codes needed to complete coursework, take quizzes, and turn in homework,” Buzzfeed – which consistently does some of the best education journalism – reports.

    Amazon has ended its student loan program partnership with Wells Fargo. Last week, the CFPB announced the bank would have to pay $4 million to settle a probe into Wells Fargo student loan practices.

    Via the EFF: “Stupid Patent of the Month: Elsevier Patents Online Peer Review.” More on the patent via The Chronicle of Higher Education. Shawn Graham responds to this patent on peer review by patenting Elsevier.

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on “The New Cheating Economy.”

    The bookmarking service Readability will shut down at the end of September.

    ProPublica on “Discrimination by Design” in digital technologies.

    Congrats, education! You made it into Snopes, which had to debunk an image claiming Bill and Melinda Gates are giving away free textbooks.

    On the heels of John Oliver’s segment blasting charter schools, the Center for Education Reform is offering $100,000 to the charter school that can create the best rebuttal video.

    Marvel Announces Science, Tech, and Math-Devoted Comic Book Covers,” Popular Science reports. (Note: just the cover will be education-related.)

    Samsung will recall some 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7s after battery problems cause some devices to catch on fire.

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    StudySoup has raised $1.7 million for a marketplace where students can buy and sell their class notes. (This idea just never dies, does it, despite the failed startups that litter its history.) The funding comes from 1776 DC, Canyon Creek Capital, 500 Startups, John Katzman, Jake Gibson, and Leonard Lodish.

    Tutoring company GradeSlam has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Anges Quebec, BDC Capital, Birchmere Ventures, Philip A Cutler, and Real Ventures.

    Nepris has raised $1 million in seed funding from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The startup, which helps corporations get their message into classrooms, has raised $1.55 million total.

    Sorting Hat Technologies, which runs the online education platform Unacademy, has raised $1 million from Ashish Tulsian, Blume Ventures, Sandeep Tandon, TraxcnLabs, Waterbridge Ventures, Aprameya Radhakrishna, Binny Bansal, Kunal Shah, Phanindra Sama, Sachin Bansal, Sujeet Kumar, Sumit Jain, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and Vikas Malpani. The startup has raised $1.5 million total.

    ConveGenius has raised $900,0000 from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for its “edutainment” offerings.

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    The privacy-violating hashtag #whatIwishmyteacherknew has been turned into a book, so that the teacher behind this can profit from her students’ struggles. So unbelievably gross. Here’s a different example of ownership (and the surrender of ownership) of students’ stories via the Star Tribune: “Retired Minn. teacher’s final assignment: Giving back his students’ stories. Richard Roach retired from teaching 23 years ago, but he’s still passing back ”autobiographies“ he assigned decades ago.”

    “Students, Directory Information, and Social Media– Part 2” by Bill Fitzgerald.

    Felician University is investigating a possible hack of its housing director’s email after a mass email was sent out denigrating black students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Police in South Carolina are beefing up patrols because children have reported clowns are trying to lure them into the woods.

    Data and “Research”

    My latest calculations on ed-tech venture capital: “Ed-Tech Startup Funding Data: August 2016.”

    More on startup funding via The New York Times: “Warned of a Crash, Start-Ups in Silicon Valley Narrow Their Focus.”

    More on ed-tech funding via Education Week’s Market Brief: “Self-Paced E-Learning Market Evaporating, Report Finds.”

    Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Marketing Claims From Adaptive Learning Vendors As Barrier To Adoption.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Military Students More Likely to Attend For-Profits and Online.” That’s according to the latest data released by the National Center for Education Statistics, which covers up to the year 2012.

    “The 7-year-old economic recovery has not been kind to the American public education system,” writes FiveThirtyEight. “In May 2008, as the Great Recession was just beginning, U.S. school departments employed 8.4 million teachers and other workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This past May, they employed just 8.2 million – despite public-school enrollments that the Department of Education estimated have risen by more than 1 million students during the same period. Student-teacher ratios are as high as they’ve been since the late 1990s, though they’re still well below their levels of the 1980s and most of the 1990s.”

    Print is still much more popular than digital. This and other findings are in the latest Pew Research on “Book Reading 2016.”

    “We Are Reading Less Literature,” says the Pacific Standard, drawing on a report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    This year’s PDK/Gallup poll has found– and I hope you’re sitting down for this bombshell – that Americans have very different opinions on the purpose of education.

    EducationNext has also released its poll on education reform, and EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin has strong words about the “glitch in the Matrix” involving its questions on blended learning.

    Via WaPo: “Study: Robot baby dolls don’t curb teen pregnancies. In fact, they may increase abortions.” So don’t worry, babies. Robots probably won’t take your jobs. Yet.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 09/09/16--03:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Presidential Campaign Politics

    Via the Washington Post: “Trump pitches $20 billion education plan at Ohio charter school that received poor marks from state.” The plan: vouchers and “choice.”

    Also via WaPo: “Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general.” That “gift” to Pam Bondi coincided with her decision not to investigate allegations of fraud regarding Trump University.

    More on Bill Clinton and Laureate Education in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Elsewhere in Education Politics

    Via Bloomberg: “U.S. Schools Caught in Turkey’s Post-Coup Attempt Crackdown.”

    Via “How a state senate primary became a charter school proxy war.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Guardian: “US library to enforce jail sentences for overdue books.” That’s the Athens-Limestone public library in Alabama (and that’s completely fucked up).

    Via the AP: “A South Carolina solicitor says a sheriff’s deputy will face no charges for tossing a student across a classroom after she refused to put away her cellphone.”

    Via The New York Times: “Judge, Citing Inequality, Orders Connecticut to Overhaul Its School System.”

    Also via The NYT: “Parents Sue After New York State Denies Money to ‘Failing’ Schools.”

    “Do Mylan’s EpiPen Contracts With Schools Break Antitrust Laws?” asks Gizmodo. The New York Attorney General’s office is looking into it.

    More on for-profit university-related lawsuits in the for-profit higher ed section below. More on sports-related lawsuits in the sports section below. And more on how team losses affect sentencing of juveniles in the research section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    “Big changes ahead for how California assesses school performance,” KPCC reports. Those changes mean that schools will be evaluated on more than students’ standardized test scores.

    This is a great headline. I love education research. Via Education Week’s Market Brief: “State Testing Disruptions Likely Produced Dips and Gains in Student Scores, Study Says.”

    Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via Buzzfeed: “ Online K–12 School Fights Attempt To Check If Students Really Show Up.” The school in question: the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

    MOOCs no longer massive, still attract millions,” Class Central’s Dhawal Shah claims in a VentureBeat op-ed.

    Udacity’s mobile apps now support “offline learning.”

    For more data on outsourcing online education to third-party providers, see the research section below.

    Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

    ITT has closed its doors. The company said that the Department of Education’s decision to bar it from federal financial aid forced it to do so. Students will be able to either 1) ask for loan forgiveness or 2) transfer their credits elsewhere. That’s a raw deal right there. “A Message from the Secretary of Education to ITT Students.” More via Angus Johnston, Tressie McMillan Cottom, the Debt Collective, “Dean Dad” Matt Reed.

    ITT is also facing lawsuits from its employees who say that the for-profit chain violated the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act, which requires a 60 day notice before mass layoffs. Employees claim they were not notified that the company would be closing.

    Edsurge promotes coding bootcamps as an alternative for former ITT students. Buyer beware, FFS.

    Via Politico: “There’s no firm deadline for the Education Department to weigh in on whether a group of investors, which includes some with deep ties to the Obama administration, are effectively allowed to buy the University of Phoenix’s parent company. But the company, Apollo Education Group, has previously said in SEC filings that it expects to get the necessary regulatory approvals to complete the sale by the end of this calendar year.”

    Via the Star Tribune: “The state of Minnesota took steps toward closing Woodbury-based Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business on Thursday after a judge ruled that the for-profit schools committed fraud in marketing and recruiting for their now-shuttered criminal justice program.”

    Iowa‘s Department of Education last week dropped its opposition to a request by Ashford University for more time to resolve a challenge to the for-profit university’s eligibility to receive students’ Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Coding bootcamp co-founder writes about “The Coding Bootcamp Hype Cycle” in Edsurge. Meta.

    Via The Washington Post: “Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college.” The for-profit: Laureate Education (which once began as the tutoring chain Sylvan Learning and is now an investor in Coursera, I always like to point out).

    Meanwhile on Campus

    “The coming era of consolidation among colleges and universities,” Jeff Selingo predicts in a Washington Post op-ed.

    Meanwhile… “Goodbye, Ivory Tower. Hello, Silicon Valley Candy Store.”

    Via New Republic: “The Crazy College of Qatar– What happens when a Texas community college opens a campus 8,000 miles from home?”

    The University of Oregon board of trustees voted unanimously to remove the name of KKK member and UO classics professor Frederic Dunn from one of the school’s dorms.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Food Delivery by Drone at Virginia Tech.”

    “Welcome to Terror High.” “What happens when a funding crunch turns a high school into a recruitment complex for arms manufacturers?” asks Malcolm Harris in Pacific Standard.

    Via CNN: “A 14-year-old freshman shot and killed herself after shooting and wounding another female student at Alpine High School in west Texas, authorities said Thursday.”

    Via Radical Political Economy: “UMass-Amherst preparing to abolish Labor Center.”

    More on the lockout at Long Island University in the labor section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Three West Virginia University Institute of Technology volleyball players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before a game on Wednesday.” The players said they were expressing solidarity with 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

    Via the Daily Emerald: “Federal Judge Michael McShane of the district of Oregon dismissed multiple lawsuits Thursday, Sept. 8 filed by three former University of Oregon basketball players last year court documents show. All three players, Brandon Austin, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, were expelled and banned from campus for allegedly raping a female student in March 2014. They later filed lawsuits stating that university officials were biased towards their cases and violated their rights. They were seeking $10 million and $7.5 million in their lawsuits.”

    More research on sports teams and criminal justice in the research section below.

    From the HR Department

    “For professors at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus, Labor Day weekend was anything but a celebration,” Inside Higher Ed reported on Tuesday. “On Saturday, all 400 members of the faculty union were told that their services were no longer required and that their positions, their health insurance and their campus email accounts were being cut off.” By the end of the first week of classes, still no resolution: “Long Island U Rejects Proposal to End Faculty Lockout,” according to the update in Inside Higher Ed. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via the Chicago Sun Times: “CTU to take new strike authorization vote – but hasn’t set date.” CTU stands for Chicago Teachers Union, in case you aren’t up on your education acronyms.

    Via The Nation: “ Teachers Are Working for Uber Just to Keep a Foothold in the Middle Class.”

    Melissa Click, who was fired last year for her role in a protest at the University of Missouri, has a new gig, which I’m not sure why is news unless those who wrote about it – I’m purposefully not linking – are completely unaware (or uncaring) about how this will re-kindle the furor of the Internet hate mob.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Apple held a marketing event this week, and the PR was duly repeated by the tech press.

    Raspberry Pi passes 10m sales mark,” the BBC reports– “the most popular British computer ever.” The Guardian also published an op-ed on the Raspberry Pi: “Small is beautiful.”

    Marriott Hotel chain announced a partnership with TED to deliver TED Talks to hotel guests, which sounds like a good reason to never ever stay at a Marriott ever again.

    Telcel customers can now access Khan Academy free of data charges on mobile apps and thanks to partnership with Carlos Slim Foundation and Telcel,” says Khan Academy.

    Knewton has partnered with WebAssign.

    Edsurge officially announces its new, expanded focus, Edsurge Higher Ed. Will it also expand its “Concierge” services, in which the company takes a cut of contracts it facilitates between schools and ed-tech companies, into post-secondary markets? WWVCD! (What would VCs do.)

    Reminder: Do not write for free– particularly for venture-backed companies like Edsurge. You’re making things worse for freelancers when you do. And for goodness sake, do not encourage your students to be exploited in this way.

    Amazon-Wells FargoStudent-Loan Plan Ran Into Political Obstacles,” says The Wall Street Journal. LOL. “Political obstacles.” The student loan deal between the two companies was cancelled last week (and the latter found itself in even more trouble this week when it was fined $185 million because its employees were creating fake bank accounts for people).

    Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

    BYJU’s, India’s largest ed-tech company, has raised $50 million in a Series D round of funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sofina, and Times Internet. The test prep company has raised $134 million total.

    iAugmentor has raised $149,000 in seed funding from Rajasthan Angel Investor Network.

    Private equity firm H.I.G. Capital will sell the International School of Europe Group to Inspired. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Frontline Education has acquiredExcent Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Via The New York Times: “Venture Communism: How China Is Building a Start-Up Boom.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Andreessen Horowitz’s Returns Trail Venture-Capital Elite.”

    Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

    “Critical Educational Questions for Big Data,” Parts 1 and 2 by Ben Williamson.

    Via the AP: “Disney to scan fingers of 3 year olds to prevent fraud.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Group Unveils a ‘Model Policy’ for Handling Student Data.” I can't really tell what the name of this group is from the story. I predict huge success.

    Via Bloomberg: “Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above.”

    Via the Washington Post: “ This employee ID badge monitors and listens to you at work – except in the bathroom.” Coming soon to an LMS near you…

    Data and “Research”

    Via T.H.E. Journal: “The biggest predictor of student achievement (based on their use of a learning management system) is not the amount of time they spend working with course content; nor is it how long they spend taking assessments or participating in discussion forums. It’s how frequently they check their grades online.” The claims are based on Blackboard data, published on the LMS company’s blog.

    Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Online Program Management: An updated view of the market landscape.”

    Also via Phil Hill: “Exclusive: Worldwide LMS market size expected to triple in 5 years … or get cut in half.”

    Via the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as reported by Infodocket): “The Cost of College Textbooks Has Increased 88% Since Jan. 2006, Tuition and Fees Up 63%.”

    Mark Guzdial writes about a thesis from Yogendra Pal: “Learning CS while Learning English: Scaffolding ESL CS Learners.”

    Via Edsurge: “What Video Games Like Doom Teach Us About Learning, According to GBL Guru James Paul Gee.”

    Via NPR: “How Domestic Violence In One Home Affects Every Child In A Class.”

    Via Motherboard: “The Head of CMU’s Robotics Lab Says Self-Driving Cars Are ‘Not Even Close’.”

    According to the American Historical Association, undergraduate enrollments in history are down.

    “Don’t Blame A ‘Skills Gap’ For Lack Of Hiring In Manufacturing,” says FiveThirtyEight.

    Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles” by Ozkan Eren, Naci Mocan:

    Employing the universe of juvenile court decisions in a U.S. state between 1996 and 2012, we analyze the effects of emotional shocks associated with unexpected outcomes of football games played by a prominent college team in the state. We investigate the behavior of judges, the conduct of whom should, by law, be free of personal biases and emotions. We find that unexpected losses increase disposition (sentence) lengths assigned by judges during the week following the game. Unexpected wins, or losses that were expected to be close contests ex-ante, have no impact. The effects of these emotional shocks are asymmetrically borne by black defendants.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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